I’ll be the first to admit that I am a judgmental individual. Always have been and always will be. By the grace of God, I have, for the most part, grown out of my immature judgmental ways. I have now progressed into more mature, calculated, judgmental ways.
I’m also incredibly prideful. I naturally fall back on my own ability to achieve, impress and perform – better – than everybody else. I’m not usually arrogant, meaning that I don’t typically tout my achievements in public or in groups of people. In fact, I usually cover up my pride by talking down about myself to other people. I like to keep that nasty beast hidden in the closet.
Most of this judgment and pride takes place in my heart, which obviously affects the way that I love people. Somewhere between my heart and my actions I convince myself that my judgment and pride are justified. This process happens action by action, with new justifications for each transgression.
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:4
I’ve heard at least a dozen sermons on this verse and any time I cross it in personal study, I quickly scoot past it. My judgment says ‘Well sure you’ve got some planks in your eye, but everyone else has problems too’ and my pride follows up with ‘besides, you can still see… and there are people who are worse off than you. They need you to tell them how wrong they are. They need you to fix them. Go fix them.’
Go fix them. I have spent so much time trying to fix people, in some cases, years, on just one person.
I enjoy the distraction of thinking, ‘praying’ and talking about other people’s problems.
When I was a teenager, I applied Matthew 7:4 in a very practical way. If there was a specific sin that I was struggling with, I wasn’t allowed to confront my friends about that sin in their life. Okay, no problem.
Today, I realized that this verse really speaks to a lifelong process.
We will spend the rest of our lives with a plank in our eye.
We have to wake up and acknowledge the truth of the Gospel, the power of the Holy Spirit and the freedom of redemption. We have to look in the mirror every day and come to terms with the fact that we just aren’t good enough. We’re not good enough to judge, to believe in our own power to succeed, to fix… anyone.
We are more than conquerors in Christ. We are empowered to point our friends back to the Gospel and back to the power of the Spirit. In fact, we’re more than empowered, we’re called to do just that.
This morning, I spent a few hours chatting over a coffee with a man who is very dear to my heart. He leads a faith community in Carlsbad and is an incredible, humble and gifted servant. We caught up on life, which of course, includes lots of gripes about other people. At the end of our conversation I smiled and said, ‘It’s funny. The more we talk about other people, the more I realize how much I’m the one who is most in need grace.’
Don’t get stuck in a rut like I have thinking about how awful the world is. Think about how screwed up, incapable and powerless you are. But don’t, even for a second, walk down the road of despair. Instead, drink up from the ever-flowing fountain of grace that frees you to be the perfect son or daughter of God that you really are.