Attribution Error

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?Matthew 7:3

It is easier to ignore our own shortcomings than it is to forgive others for theirs. Surely we we’d never act as wrong as they did, right? Lynette Hoy, LPC states, “But when we do something wrong or hurtful/disappointing we tend to excuse our own behavior by attributing external causes…. This is what psychologists call the “Fundamental Attribution Error.”

There’s an old saying: when you point a finger, three more point back to you. That is something to remember the next time you are tempted to not hold a grudge. We tend to think someone else’s offense is greater than anything we’d do. We’re trained to do that because our legal system measures a wrongdoing, and then assigns a penalty to fit the offense. Shoplifting doesn’t carry the same severity as a murdering an entire family.

Yet, in God’s eyes, sin is sin. No shades of gray. Paul states in Romans 3:23 we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Christ died on the cross because He knew humans are prone to mess up. Are we fooling ourselves into thinking we are really better than someone else? What excuses are we using to try and justify our behavior?

As Christians, we’re not to drag our brothers and sisters before God to be punished or examined under a holy microscope. We are to forgive them, just as Christ forgave all of us on the hard wood of the cross as He bled for us…and them, too. After all, we probably need forgiveness for something we have done or said, too.

Father, forgive me for my attribution error, in thinking my sins are less than someone else’s or trying to make excuses for them so they seem less somehow. Correct me when I come to you wanting you to punish someone who has hurt or angered me. Let me realize that I am flawed, human, and imperfect as well. Keep me humble, and open my heart to receive others despite their humanness. Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove
Used by Permission

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