Here is a paradox: When we consider the sin of others we often see them as bad people who did a bad thing. When we consider our own sin we see a good person who did a bad thing. We tend to assume the worst about others and the best about ourselves. In the first instance our attitudes of condemnation of others can fuel our own self-righteousness because our sin is not as bad as their sin. It is ironic that we can be proud that we are less sinful than others! It is also a false comparison in that all of us are capable of evil. The Apostle Paul called himself the "chief among sinners" and described his own struggles with doing what is right in Romans 7. It is also why he said that we should boast in nothing but the cross as it is through the cross that our sin is forgiven, our hearts cleansed and our lives transformed. We are all sinners saved by grace. That is the great leveler! In the second instance, it is very possible for us to downplay our own proclivities toward evil and assume that we are better than we are. As Winston Churchill said humorously, "We are all worms but I do believe that I am a glow worm." In other words, we are the exceptions to the rule. Actually no one is exempt from evil and all must be aware of its pull. A part of true spiritual formation is understanding that our goodness comes from Christ and that in our fallen nature we are all prone to sinful thoughts and actions. Understanding our own sinful inclinations both helps us guard against them and appreciate the struggles of others. We may struggle differently but all of us struggle with sin. How I see others and their sin has an impact on how I treat them. Usually we treat ourselves far better than we treat others because we can think the worst about them and the best about ourselves. What if we were to treat others the way we treat ourselves and assume that they, like us, desire the best and desire righteousness. We are all broken vessels that only God can fully repair. My fault lines may lie in different places than yours but the places of needed healing and growth exist for us both.