Saturday, July 3, 2010

Specks, Planks, and Billboards

Matthew 7: 1-5
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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? 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? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Man, oh man...its easy to fall into this trap, isn't it?  We are so quick to look at our neighbors and think "why would they do that?" or to look at our friends and say to ourself "I would never have allowed this to happen."  It's easy and I believe everyone has done it.  We even do it inside our homes and within our families.  We look at our children and tell them how we would have never behaved that way when we were kids or we argue with our spouse about all that he/she did or didn't do and how we could have handled this situation or that circumstance so much better.  Our way is always better, isn't it?

The truth of that matter is that our way is the way of a sinner! We are not perfect.  We can never begin to say how we would have handled a situation because we weren't in that person's shoes, in that moment. We really can't look back on a circumstance and know that we would have made any decisions differently. We simply believe that we would have because now we can see the whole picture. We also cannot control the actions of others.  We can only control what we say and do.  We can't expect everyone around us to behave the way we wish they would, respond how we hope, or react in a manner that we find appropriate. We can only control OUR choices, OUR behavior, OUR reactions. Our circle of control is really only the very small area immediately around us, as an individual.

I'm reminded of this today as I take a good, hard look at myself. I expect my children to do this or that, say this or don't say that, feel grateful for the action of another and to always be respectful.  I expect my husband to always stay calm in his parenting over them and to always express himself in an "appropriate manner".  I demand that my children respect him and submit to his authority in one breath and I undermine him in the next.  I expect that "intense fellowships" in our marriage are always well thought out but I also push to "address" the issue until a solid resolution is reached, which is really an oxy-moron.  I make the kids say "I'm sorry" before they're really ready to offer a heart-felt apology or even really understand why their actions have hurt another person and yet I sometimes find it very difficult to be the first to offer up an apology of my own.

I see the speck in the eyes of those I love all too easily. In fact, I often look at those specks and see them as ginormous planks that need to chiseled away until they're completely gone, and I am the self-appointed carpentar!  I forget, though, that I am looking through blocked vision.  I am trying to peek and peer around the forests of sin in my own life, in order to even see their specks.  I spend so much energy trying to push those billboards of self-righteousness out of my way as I bulldoze my way into the lives of those around me, that I forget that God may be using those specks of sin I see in someone else to remind me of that billboard I had moved aside.

I read this verse today and am gently reminded by my Heavenly Father that I need to go back and spend some time tearing down the sinful roadblocks in my own life. I need to re-examine my actions, my thoughts, my relationships with others through the always clear vision of God.  I need to let him be my guide and I need to allow him to point out the signs I've forgotten to read. Only when I am able to recognize and repent of the sin in my life can I truly impact those around me and be an example of true repentance in my home.

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