"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
December 2, 2009
One of the hardest things for us to deal with at times is having our flaws pointed out to us. Oh we know that we're not perfect, but we sure don't like others to tell us what our faults are. We'd rather think that we keep them well hidden and no one can see them.
Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that more often than we'd like to admit, the reason some things really rub us the wrong way in other people is because those same characteristics are in us. We can't seem to see it in ourselves, but it's usually obvious to others.
Jon recently had a very obvious example of this. While working in Singapore, he was one of the lower men on the totem pole of workers. He was there to do just a tiny part of a huge project. There were actually a few different companies working on this ship to get it outfitted as a pumping station for oil. Two of the higher-up bosses overseeing different aspects of this both work for the same company. They could hardly stand to be in the same room with one another, argued about everything and yelled, and absolutely hated each other.
Towards the end of Jon being there, one of the supervisors from another company was visiting with Jon about this. He pointed out that the reason the two men couldn't get along and despised the other was because they were so much alike. After he pointed that fact out, Jon realized that what he said was true. There were many similarities between the two men's personalities. What bugged each of them the most about the other, were traits they personally had themselves; only they were unable to see that.
In fact, one of the men mentioned one day at lunch that he could be a real jerk (not quite the word he used) if he really tried, and be like the other guy; but he seemed to think that it would be something he'd have to work very hard at. The others with him had a hard time not laughing because he really was a jerk the majority of the time and was already much like that other man. It also let them know that he really didn't see his flaws and had no idea that he was as obnoxious as the other man was.
I've seen parents and children butt heads with one another, and at times it's mainly due to their personalities being so similar. A son is acting just like his dad, but it really bugs the dad because he can't see himself in the son. They end up arguing and disagreeing about everything. The son doesn't want to be like his dad, and the dad hates to think that one of his less desirable traits would be a characteristic of his son.
One of my nephews and his dad would argue about things. They weren't necessarily angry with each other, but they would just disagree and argue. My sister would stay out of it and laugh at them. She said that the bottom line was, they were arguing the exact same thing! But they didn't see it and each thought they were right. But they were actually saying the same thing; just in different ways.
I have heard people get on their soapbox about various issues. But then later I've seen them struggling with the very same issue that they were so vocal about. It's as if they had to make a lot of noise about it, in order to try and ease their own conscience; and it's much easier to point fingers at others instead of dealing with their own internal struggles.
Jesus is teaching in Matthew chapter seven. The first verse begins, "Judge not, that you be not judged." Boy, if we would only take that to heart and put those words into practice! But too often we justify our comments regarding others that, "I'm not really judging them, I'm only......" Or think, "I'm just being honest" or "Just telling it like it is."
Then Jesus continues, "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?"
A description of a plank is "a long, thin, flat piece of timber"; while the description of a speck is "a tiny spot".
Wow! Those are hard instructions that Jesus is giving. It's so much easier to judge others and find their faults. It's simpler to criticize the actions of someone else. We say negative things about pastors, fellow church members, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances. It's a trap that people tend to fall into; seeing the tiny spot in the eyes of everyone else and ignoring the plank in their own eye.
And we justify doing this. We think, "Oh, what I'm saying really isn't that bad." Or "I'm just speaking the truth; and it's what other people are thinking and saying too." Or "I'm not really judging them or saying anything negative. It's just a topic of conversation and I don't mean anything by it." But are our words we speak edifying, encouraging, and beneficial? What we say about others, would we mind them knowing that we say it? I think that's the key! The words that we speak about others, when they aren't present, are they words that we would speak if they were standing in front of us? Most of us would probably either modify what we say or else just keep our mouths closed.
The next words Jesus speaks seems pretty harsh. "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye; and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
I believe that Jesus means business and is very forthright when teaching on the subject of judging others. He's not playing games, and doesn't intend for us to either. He doesn't want His children being hypocritical. He doesn't want us to find fault with others, while ignoring the sin and shortcomings in our own lives.
A simple example of this is looking at yourself in the mirror. I will look in the mirror in the mornings, after I shower, and see that the lines are increasing around my eyes; the skin on my neck isn't as smooth as it used to be; I see all my gray roots shining through (unless I just finished coloring my hair); skin is starting to droop in places that used to be firmer; and the list could go on and on. I see those things and see the gradual appearance of aging taking place. I can see all my various physical flaws. Yet when I walk away I no longer see them. In my mind I know that they are there, yet they're not as apparent as when I'm looking in the mirror.
But then I will see people when I'm out and about and think, "Wow, that person is really big!" Or "That lady really shouldn't be wearing that." Or "I wonder what they were thinking with that hairstyle."
Or I see someone that I haven't seen in a while and think, "Boy, they're really showing their age!" Or "They sure have put on weight." Or "Ha! They have more wrinkles and look older than I do!"
Then I go back and look into the mirror and see my own flaws again, and realize that those same people are more than likely looking at me and judging me with the same measures with which I judged them. More than likely, they are thinking those same things about me. That's not a very appealing thought!
Let's all take some time and get the plank(s) out of our own eye before judging the speck in the eye of someone else. May we all take time to stop and consider our words before speaking about someone. Not only ask ourselves, "Is what I'm saying about them beneficial;" but also "Would I mind them knowing what I'm saying about them?" Also, "What I'm saying about others, would I speak those words in front of Jesus?" We seem to forget that God is all-knowing and all-hearing and not only hears our words but knows our very thoughts.
It's not always necessarily those big critical words that we speak, but sometimes it may be our attitude regarding the person that we're talking about. Satan convinces us that "gossiping" and talking about someone as a topic of conversations is fine. But we need to take notice of our words and see if they are uplifting and beneficial.
I know that I need to do some housekeeping in my mind and clean up my thoughts and attitudes regarding others. I need to take care of the problems and planks that are in my own life and not worry about the speck in the eyes of those around me.
I've had a few things in my eyes. It can really hurt. Some of those times, I've managed to get it out by myself. But usually, I need help.
Usually, I can't help but notice that something in my eye hurts. But once in awhile, someone else points it out first. They can tell something's wrong by the red glow and giant veins in my eye. Even when we try to hide it, usually other people can see when we are hurting, even if we can't see it ourselves.
Even when I know something is wrong, it can be hard to find exactly where the problem is. In the same way, we can sometimes hurt in our spiritual walk, but need to search pretty hard to find why.
Finally, I wouldn't want to get help from someone with a plank in their eye.
It's a great analogy.
This month I will be featuring some of my favorite Christmas recipes. This fudge recipe is my very favorite! It was given to one of my sisters by her husband's grandmother.
Granny Schwyhart's Fudge
1 can evaporated milk
4 1/2 cups sugar
Bring milk and sugar to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes. After 4 1/2 minutes stir constantly to keep from scorching.
In a large bowl put the following ingredients:
2 (12 oz.) pkgs. Nestle chocolate chips
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)
1 pint marshmallow cree
1 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Pour boiling mixture over ingredients in the bowl. Stir until glossy (takes quite a while). Pour into buttered pans.
I like nuts in my fudge and Jon doesn't, so I butter two pans. I pour half the fudge mixture into one pan, then add the nuts into the remaining mixture, stir well, and pour into the second container.
It's fun to listen to my sisters talk about their grandkids. Most of my cousins now have grandkids too. The general consensus seems to be that grandkids are more fun than kids are, because you don't have the responsibility of raising them. They've all said that they will let their grandkids do things that they never let their kids get by with. They will laugh at things their grandkids say, thinking that it's funny; but when their own kids were little they didn't think it was quite so humorous when they said some of the same things.
I watched my dad do things with his grandkids that he never would have done with us girls. They would come visit and he'd climb up on his big tractor and take them for rides around and around the yard. I'm sure when we were little, he would have thought that was a waste of gas!
I'm thinking that grandkids must be one of God's greatest creations!
Are you looking for proof to strengthen your beliefs; or looking for proof to confirm your doubts? - (line from an old Loretta Young show)
As you begin making preparations for Christmas, don't become so overwhelmed that you lose sight of Who we're celebrating.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon