Assumptions and Appearances

“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 NIV

WHY do we let other people’s weaknesses bother us so?   It is so easy to forget that there has only been one human being who walked this earth without fault: Jesus Christ.  How is it that we set expectations for our friends to be perfect when on the other hand we also expect them to extend us grace for our inadequacies.

Experts of the human psyche know that we are quick to be negatively stirred up by the character traits of others that are the same ones that we ourselves struggle to conquer.  Peter Senge explains in the Fifth Discipline that this recognition is like a mirror.  My interpretation of his work is this: that the very qualities we dislike in others are the reflection of the same within us. 

Solomon said ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. Senge confirms the quote found in the books of Matthew and Luke that admonish the reader to consider: Why it is that we are so fixed on exposing another person’s problems when we ourselves have enough to improve within ourselves.

I admit there are times I have the urge to speak about a friend’s weakness.  I get frustrated, disappointed or angry by something that was said or done and I want to share it with someone else who will commiserate with me, understanding my pain or frustration.  But what does this really accomplish?  Perhaps it strikes up dissension, causes the hearer to wonder if I may be sharing his/her faults with someone else or it could generate a mill of gossip.  Gossip provides no positive transforming value for the other person or myself.  In the end I feel guilty for having shared the other person’s transgression.  Even if I momentarily feel better because someone ‘understands’ my emotional reaction, I soon feel the need to repent.

As I have grown to understand the promises and the power of the Word of God, I have found freedom from many of my former ways.  Now when I am tempted to share someone elses weakness or offense I am reminded:

“‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:17-18 NIV

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:19-27 NIV

So I suggest that you and I look into the mirror of Christ and reflect His beauty in all that we think, say and do.  Afterall, as a man thinks in this heart so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7 NAS Therefore, let us choose to think, act and be as the only perfect human being. Jesus always addressed trouble directly with the troublemaker and never, ever had to go behind their back to ‘let off steam’ or to be understood.

So let’s get rid of assumptions and appearances of others, and instead go after the purification of our own heart.  The next time you are tempted to say “she is such a gossip”, “he isn’t very nice”, “they are so self-centered!” Perhaps you will look within; ask the Lord to shine the light in your own heart; and make it a habit to seek His power to overcome this for yourself. Rather than casting blame – cast grace upon your friend who has the speck, as you remove the plank from your life.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jen VanWormer
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 00:36:23

    Ouch, that hurt…thanks Kim!!!


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