You are on page 1of 3

Button That Pocket, Soldier!

A retired Army officer recalled an incident when he inspected some recruits


who had just finished basic training. He stood right in front of one, making
the young man quite nervous.
The officer noted an unbuttoned pocket flap on the privates shirt, and
barked out in his best authoritative voice, Button that pocket, soldier!
Now a few shades of red, the private looked around and nervously asked,
Right now, sir? The officer responded, Of course, right now. When did you
think I meant for you to do it?
The soldier then did something quite out of character as to what a private
would normally do to an officer. He gave the officer his weapon, and then
buttoned the officers shirt pocket. Needless to say, the officer was
somewhat chagrined.
Does this remind you of something Christ taught? "Do not judge so that you
will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your
standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the
speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your
own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of
your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take
the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck
out of your brother's eye. (Matt. 7:1-5).
The do not judge part is probably one of the most misused Bible verses.
Any time some sort of criticism is offered, the offended will trot out The
Bible says not to judge Forgotten is the rest of the passage, as well as
John 7:24: Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous
judgment.
But why is it that so often we see the speck in anothers eye, but fail to
acknowledge our own shortcomings and failures? One reason might have to
do with pride. I suppose most of us think we are pretty decent folks. But too
much self-esteem may make us oblivious to our own faults. The Pharisees
seemed to have a problem with this. Christ addressed the matter of pride
when one chose a seat at a wedding feast. The self-important man came in
and sat down in a place of honor, but then was moved when a more highly
respected man came in (Luke 14:8-11).

It is sometimes true that those who are the most critical are the ones who
might need the most criticism themselves, thus they try to hide their own
shortcomings by pointing fingers at others. But we must remember the old
saying which reminds us that when we point a finger at others, there are
usually three fingers pointing back at us.
The whole point of Jesus teaching is that we should not be so quick to
criticize before we consider ourselves. There are times when we do not
understand the circumstances of the other person, or we may have received
wrong information, or it may simply be a matter of judgment that doesnt
involve sin. Its just a difference of opinion.
But when we do feel some criticism is in order, there are some guidelines
that should be observed.
(1) Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the
afflicted and needy (Prov. 31:9). We must be sure that our motives are right,
and we are not just venting some pet peeve we have.
(2) He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him
(Prov. 18:13). Be sure that we have all the facts before making a judgment.
When the Pharisees were seeking to have Jesus arrested, Nicodemus asked,
"Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows
what he is doing, does it?" (John 7:51).
(3) Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual,
restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so
that you too will not be tempted (Gal. 6:1). Be sure that we approach in the
right spirit. A censorious, harsh spirit is not designed to encourage the
offender, but indeed may drive him further away. Paul further comments on
the right spirit in II Timothy 2:24-25: The Lord's bond-servant must not be
quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with
gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant
them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.
Criticism is sometimes needed, just as in driving a car, the steering must be
corrected to keep the car in the right path. But let us take heed that we both
give and receive criticism in the right spirit.
Jefferson David Tant, jdtant3@juno.com