You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. — Jesus
Two days ago, I sat at a stoplight behind five other cars waiting to make a left turn.
It was a bright, sunny day, and I knew the intersection well. The left arrow was notoriously short, and and I realized that with five cars in front of me, I might be waiting through a second red light.
It turned out to be a very eventful red light.
The left arrow turned green. The four cars ahead of me made it through, but the minivan directly in front of me stopped short as the arrow changed to yellow. This was mildly irritating, I had to admit. The minivan could have easily made it through the yellow, and I likely could have made it too. I had consumed plenty of coffee, though, and I was feeling quite peaceable. No big deal.
I noticed movement in the rearview mirror. The driver behind me, a 20-something lad driving a sleek, black, late-model sports car, was gesturing quite rudely in my general direction. Seldom do you see such wild gesticulation. This guy was experiencing some strong emotions, and he was funneling them right to me in the form of a one-finger salute. I could read his lips, too. I’m really, really bad at reading lips, but I had zero trouble figuring out what this dude was saying. In fact, my very first guess was correct!
Against my better judgment, I turned around and made eye contact through the rear window. “Me?” I mouthed, pointing to my chest.
“No, no, no,” he mouthed, looking a tad sheepish. “Him.” He then pointed to the minivan in front of me who’d stopped short at the yellow light.
I faced forward in my seat. There was no way all three of us could have made it through that yellow light, but whatever. This guy was obviously tightly-wound, and who knows? Maybe he was late for something super important, like all-you-can-eat wing night at Hooters.
The three of us sat at the stoplight: the overcautious minivan driver, me, and the hyper-agressive black sports car guy. A few more cars lined up behind us.
After a couple of minutes, the light turned. The driver of the minivan wasted no time getting out of that whole situation, and I followed quickly into the intersection.
But the black sports car stayed put. Checking my mirror, I saw that the driver was staring into his lap. One second passed, then another. After about five seconds (a long time in traffic), he glanced up from his smartphone and zoomed through a yellow light.
None of the cars behind him had time to follow before the light turned red.
What a hypocrite, right?
Yeah, but he’s in good company.
We Are All Hypocrites
The guy in the black sports car just happened to broadcast his hypocrisy, publicly and hilariously. If he’d kept his feelings to himself (as most of us would have in his situation), no one would have known.
We all do what he did, every day.
We all judge others by their behavior and ourselves by our intent.
We all put the best possible construction on our actions and the worst possible construction on others’ actions (especially if we’re stressed or we don’t like them).
We all hold others accountable and let ourselves off the hook.
When we’re temped to feel superior to someone else, it’s worth asking ourselves, “When was the last time I did something like this?”