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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Removing the Log from My Eye

It is so easy to see the sins of others. It seems very natural.

Thus, it is also easy to talk of these sins. We can gather a group of people and speak of the flaws of others for hours. And we don't have to limit our criticism to individuals. We can categorize whole groups. We speak of the rich, the poor, the congress, the government, the immigrants and just about any other group who is not us in an utmost critical manner. Yes, we see their sins clearly. We don't think they see their own.

And why don't we believe they see their own sins? Could it be that because we don't see our own sins that we believe than no one sees his own sins? Or do we believe that they would do something about their sins if they knew they had them? Therefore, they must not know their sins because they aren't doing anything.

But the focus of our lives is not intended to point out the sins of others even though doing so can launch a whole television network. It is so easy to point out the flaws of others. And many people yearn for someone to point those we can't see out to us. We may call it being informed but it cannot be the focus of our lives. We must look to ourselves before we ever look at the sins of anyone else.

Jesus said that people who point out the sins of others must first get the big things out of their own eyes before they can get the little things out of others' eyes. We can't seem to see that looking for the sins of others are logs in our eyes. We should be surprised by the sinfulness of others rather than looking for it.

All of us are sinners. Each and every one of us has sinned and fallen short of God's glory. This neither means that we should always point out the sins of others nor that we should never expect to point out the sins of others. The key ingredient is seeing your own sins before pointing out the sins of others.

And it can't stop with pointing them out. The effort is to have their sin removed. Here we want a change in their lives because it is good for them. We aren't looking for them to pay a pound of flesh or their personal gratitude. We want what is best for them.

Thus, speaking of the sins of others without any plan for the removal of these sins are logs in our own eyes. You can never get taller by standing on the backs of those who have fallen yet that seems to be the system of many who feel good about themselves when they point out the sins of others.

I couldn't help overhearing a loud man speaking negatively about the President while I sat in a restaurant the other night. He spoke of the President's trip to our area. We are not too far from DC but the President traveled in Air Force One. He spoke of the expense of bringing that big plane down here rather than traveling by car or helicopter. He did not know where the President may be headed afterwards. He did not understand the need for security. He just criticized. I suspected he didn't vote for the President either.

The problem I have is that I am just as likely to do what this man did. I find myself criticizing before I have enough facts to make a judgment. I want to criticize those who are not like me. If they were right, I reason, they would be like me, right? In fact, I put together a whole scenario of what is happening without many facts at all. I can make anyone into the antichrist within my own judgmental imagination.

I have a log (or maybe logs) in my eye. I must get it out. I suspect my whole view of the world will change when I do.

Matthew 7:3-5 (ESV) 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 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.


Anonymous said...

Last Sunday, after service I was stopped by a member of the church, and he stopped to ask my view on hypocrisy! He asked if I remembered the previous Sunday, there was, preached over the pulpit (not by the Senior Pastor, but by a young pastor by the same Christian name as the Senior Pastor, only surname was different), something about hypocrisy.  Before I could try to recollect, he went on to say that if someone preaches about hypocrisy, and if he asks that preacher if Christians are hypocrites also, and that preacher answers that Christians are not, isn't that being a hypocrite (the preacher, he meant)?! I really could not remember that previous week's sermon (perhaps, I have not been hyper-critical or perhaps, there was nothing really special that I should have noted to ponder about, or perhaps, I was plain lousy in remembering sermon, generally; many people cannot remember a thing, by the time they reach their car door after a service!), but lest I be accused of brushing off someone's approaching me - not interested with anyone, once the eyes of the congregation is no longer looking at me, I gave my time to the brother, and answered his question.

To answer his question, I explained NOT every Christian is above it all, above hypocrisy, above being proud, above being greedy, etc, etc. I said I wouldn't claim such thing as Christians are never hypocrites! Even believers are prone to cling back to the ways of the world. I said it was best not to claim such things as one is being without hypocrisy, or is being humble or without sin.  I said, and the brother agreed, that the moment we think we are humble, we are no longer humble!  I said it was best not to project that we have arrived.  We are growing, and people are at different stages of growth and refinement by fire, by the Lord; not arrived-lah, I tried to explain.  I said one of the problems we have, is that we are prone to pretence or falsehood.  This happens in church and outside too, in our workplace, etc. Because we want to look good, and so, we say the right things, but we do not necessarily live by them; that is hypocrisy! We are also guilty of hypocrisy when we do the right things, only in church, and not when we have stepped out of the church.

I am a teacher at heart, and so, I have to say something in defense of teachers, and I told this brother that while it is true, certain subjects I will not teach because I do not think I have what it takes to teach on such subjects, but is not exactly right to say that unless we have arrived for the subject, we cannot teach.  Sometimes, we still teach because there is a need for such to be taught.  I explained, who is to teach on humility?; if you think you are humble enough to teach it, you may have disqualified yourself!  The same goes with hypocrisy, sinning (who never sin!), right living, and the like. I told the brother, if I do touch on such subject, I would probably say something to the effect that "it is not that I have arrived".  I was trying to weave in, that we got to give a little allowance to the young pastor who preached the previous week; if we don't give him the opportunity to preach, how is he to grow.  


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

The brother then said he wanted to be told he was wrong if he was wrong, he only wanted to learn.  Well, that statement in that context, could mean he was hinting that anyone, including the pastor, ought to be like him, be told he was wrong, if he was wrong, to learn; or he was genuinely expressing, he only wanted to learn when he heard something, and sought clarification with the preacher or speaker. I revealed to him that I too, would speak out or even write or blog about wrong teachings, but my concentration is only on the core theology or doctrines of the faith; non-core ones, I could let them go.

Luckily, or maybe, I should not use such a phrase as "luckily", but I did stop and gave of my time to answer this brother's queries. This brother went to say, a pastor (this time, I believe he was not referring to the young pastor!) said we could ask him if we need clarification, but when he approached, the pastor just avoided his queries, or "deflected" them away - not meaning what he, the pastor, said - can approach; but really does not want to give the time or attention - hypocrite in the sense of saying one thing, and doing another thing or not intending to do what was said! I wondered if I had given a "quickie answer", and moved off, I too, would be labelled as a hypocrite, warm and helpful when about 1,000 pair of eyes were looking on, but cold afterwards, when the  crowd had dispersed.  I was not trying to defend the pastors, but I did try to explain the culture in our society has become "everyone is always packed out - "no time to stop for someone, alway got  to go". I did lament to the brother, it is bad enough, we have that outside; the church setting should at least be different, otherwise, it is really cold.

It is not exactly to the topic, but what I have rumbled on, above, is not exactly off topic, since that Matthew text has, in v5, "You hypocrite ...."

Ps Prentis pointed correctly that one of the intents of the text was to instruct that we point out people's "speck" to remove, so that people become better.  In order that we can be agent or catalyst in resulting in the removal of the speck, we must not be a hypocrite.  There are 2 issues here: one, pretence or falsehood or hypocrisy will not find agreement with God, and so, God cannot be expected to be working with us; two, if we are hypocrite in the eyes of the person we are trying to help, the person would not take in, what we have to dish out.  Both of this could lead to, we be stopped in our track, probably only managed to point out the "speck", and no further.   This may lead to the person feeling condemned, and it does not do the person any good; harm, maybe. I am not saying we are condemning people; but the person can feel condemned. In any case, being viewed as a hypocrite, only serve give a bad name to believers.

However, we have to examine ourselves if we are truly being hypocrite, when we are being accused of being one.  I have received phone SMS that I was a hypocrite.  This was from someone I given a lot of time and attention to help. It hurt.  As a servant of God, we can be ministering to all kinds of people.  Some are appreciative, some are not, and others, they could turn around and "bite you".  When we have honestly assessed the accusation and found it to be untrue, we just have to let it go, and forgive.  Our hurt, we place it at the foot of the Cross.  Jesus suffered much, we suffer a little, is really nothing; in any case, when we share in the suffering of Christ, Scripture said, we also will share in His glory, in time to come.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions