Resetting the standard


Social media provides us with an interesting tool for observing current social norms.

When we create accounts and agree to the terms of service provided by these companies, we are afforded entry into a massive fishbowl of sorts. Anyone with access to a computerized device, which is literally everyone in our modern world, is able to watch as the insanity ensues.

It is both entertaining and informative. I scroll through the online aquarium quite often, and I’m continually reminded of interactions between my siblings and I from back when we were children.

I come from a blended family. My parents got married during my junior year of high school, bringing three and five children, respectively. I was the oldest at 17 and three youngest were 12 with four others at ages between. To clarify, there were eight children in total, all in the throes of adolescence. It was absolute insanity and I loved it … most of the time.

As one might imagine, putting that many teenagers in close proximity to one another for such prolonged periods of time led to some interesting interactions and altercations. This was particularly true when one of us would get into trouble. The reality was that rare were the moments when only one of us was in trouble. We may not have all been party to the same lapse in discretion, but the odds were good that someone else had messed up in some way.

It didn’t take long for us to discover this truth and to turn it into a defense mechanism. Siblings keep score, and when one of us would falter, we were very quick to attempt to deflect attention from our missteps to those of others.

When confronted with a failing, the usual response would be, “What about (insert sibling’s name)? They did (X). They’re worse than I am.” I can’t remember one occasion when pointing out the failure of one of another absolved us of our own.

This logic is prevalent in our world today. It is easily observed in social media, but it can be seen on the nightly news, in conversations at the local convenience store, at interscholastic athletic events, in our local churches and in our homes. It’s one thing to espouse such a position, but at some point, we have to grow out of this false and harmful mindset.

The failure of another is never a valid defense for our own. It is none too difficult to look around and find someone who has done something more egregious than you. Is that, however, the standard to which we are striving? Are we really satisfied with believing that we are less bad than someone else?

Whether or not someone else has failed does not undo the reality of my own failure. We should never seek to make our wrongs seem right, nor should we seek to excuse our own faults by highlighting the faults of others. Rather, we should actively seek to right our wrongs in as much as we are able and humbly seek the grace and forgiveness of those we’ve wronged.

We need to demonstrate the same grace and forgiveness we ourselves hope to experience when we falter and fall. We need to confront inappropriate attitudes and actions in those around us, but we must do so delicately and with grace.

But when we call them to cover for our own, that demonstrates a lack of compassion and concern, and it’s altogether unhelpful. We should treat the struggles of others in the same way we would want them to treat ours.

We need to recalibrate our standards, both for how we view our own failures and how we treat the failures of others. We make nothing better by pointing fingers back and forth. No one improves when we are consumed with propping ourselves up by pushing others down. We should aspire to limit our own failings rather than amplifying the failures of others.

Rather than contenting ourselves with being better than “them,” we should instead attempt to be more like Jesus. We should show the same grace as the one who was without sin yet refused to throw the first stone.

Two wrongs never made a right, but a right can undo a host of wrongs.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].

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