“Search not out the faults of men; reveal not the sins of thy fellow; the shortcomings of thy neighbors, in speech of the mouth repeat not. Thou art not judge in creation, thou has not dominion over the earth. If thou lovest righteousness, reprove thy soul and thyself. Be thou judge unto thine own sins, and chastiser of thy own transgressions. Make thou not inquiry maliciously, into the misdeeds of men. For if thou doest this, injuries will not be lacking to thee.” ~St. Ephraim the Syrian
Many people today have become peeping Toms of a sort. Not to catch our neighbor putting on a bra, but to catch our neighbors doing what we consider wrong and evil. Nearly all of us do it occasionally, but some have made a devoted hobby of it. As St. Ephraim clearly states, this is not the way for a Christian, or a spiritual person of any sort, to live.
Faults of Men
By searching for the faults in others, usually so we can gloat about how much better we are (privately or publicly), we are creating a situation we may not want.
First, because of the laws of Karma and other natural laws, what we do to other, we implicitly give them permission to do to us. If we steal from others, we have no call to complain when we ourselves are robbed. If we lie to others, expect that others will lie to us. And if we spy on others with the intent of finding fault with them, we give them permission to do the same to us.
Second, we have no authority to judge what is good or evil and what our neighbors should or should not do. Our neighbor may not share all of our beliefs. That doesn’t make him or her evil. It doesn’t even make them wrong. To assume that it does is to assume that we are perfect and therefore are the ultimate judge of such things. So let’s clear that up completely None of us on the plain of matter is perfect. It is impossible to live on this low level as a perfected being for more than a very short time. So if we are not perfect, can we possibly know what our imperfections are? In most cases, the answer is no. We may know what some of our faults are, but never all of them.
Peeping Toms of Ourselves
St. Ephraim is correct in saying that our judging of right and wrong should be confined to ourselves. We must be peeping Toms of ourselves not others. Not only should we judge ourselves, we must.
Unless you have a psychological behavior problem, you don’t scratch yourself at random. You only scratch the spot the itches. We don’t correct problem that doesn’t exist. Nor do we correct a problem in ourselves that does exist, but which we refuse to acknowledge. If we wise to grow, we must fist discover where we most need it.
There have been a number of cases in recent years where politicians who oppose gay rights have been caught having gay sex. In a very recent case, a “right to life” politician was caught advising his mistress to have an abortion. In short, many who oppose things, whether politician or not, are opposing the very things they fear is in themselves. Often it’s a form of denial, other times a cover-up.
Jesus advised us to not worry about the mote in our brothers eye when we have a beam in our own. Many Christians will reply that they have no such beam. Just by saying that, they prove that they do. So let’s all start doing less worrying about our neighbors behavior, and be peeping Toms of ourselves.