Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
— James 4:11
I have a friend, an improvisor, who steers a straight course through life using the improvisation principle of "the rules only apply to me" in all interactions, not just his professional ones.1 As soon as he told me this, I knew it was the right thing for me too, to keep me out of judgment, disapproval, indignation and all such other traits that surface when people don't do what we want them to do. Oh, that I could live by it more vigilantly! We need such rules for ourselves—as we need scripture like the words we find in the book of James—to set a baseline for ourselves. Without them we drift through life, never knowing why we often have uncomfortable inner turmoil in our interactions with others.
If I judge others, I judge the Law. I struggled with that at first reading. How? I think this. If I claim another is not living up to the Law, I am standing in judgment of my brother, yes, but also assuming to know the law better than they do. And maybe I don't. Maybe it is I who am wrong. So I am judging the accuracy of the law by my own standards, whereas I ought to be leaving the meaning of the Law up to God, and living to it to the best of my ability. I too will (and do) frequently fall short.
Reminding myself that the rules only apply to me keeps me focussed on what matters. It keeps me from correcting others which leaves more room to simply love them.
1 Impro by Keith Johnstone, Routledge, 1979