April 29, 2014
I have it.
You have it.
We all have it.
It’s called “Plank Eye”.
Have you found yourself asking the question: Why does this person annoy me so much?
When someone does something even slightly wrong that annoys you, do you detect the hypocrisy?
We all do it. The colleague or housemate that we think should work harder or do more. A class or team mate who we think should be more thoughtful and less selfish.
It is a worrying truth that we can all hold such high expectations, which we apply to everyone but ourselves. We quite happily let sinister and destructive attitudes go unchecked and undealt with in our own hearts. But when it comes to ‘that person’ – we expect and demand of them perfection.
So why are relationships so difficult in the first place?
God, in His word the Bible, tells us that it is wholly because of sin.
And yes, it certainly is the sin of others, but more importantly, it is because of our own sin! The Bible, diagnoses and locates this ‘evil’ in every one of our hearts:
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of,” (Luke 6:45).
Jesus further exposes the hypocrisy in us when he says:
“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).
The point Jesus is making here is that when we view sin in others, our vision is already heavily impaired. Can you see out of an eye that has a plank in it? Answer: You can’t!
So we are trying to use minds and hearts that are corrupted by our own sin to judge the actions (or inaction) of another, without even knowing the person’s heart condition! You see the difficulty? It’s impossible!
Jesus says that if we remove the plank we’ve got lodged in our eye then, and only then, we will be able to see, to help with the speck in theirs.
This means that when we are tempted to jump to conclusions or criticism about the behaviour of others, we must examine our own hearts; our attitudes towards God and towards them; and ask God to first change us.
And He does that through his Word, which first makes us aware of our sin, but which also tells us of God’s perfect Son, Jesus. Jesus died on the Cross to take our punishment upon himself. And, once forgiven, we receive God’s Holy Spirit who is able to transform our thoughts and behaviour, giving us victory over sin and its power in our lives.
The stark reminder is this: compared to others we may think we are better. But when compared to God’s holy standard (which demands us to “Be Holy, because I am Holy”), every single person falls short. And we would all be in serious trouble had it not been for God showing us mercy first.
This is really challenging stuff. But, if grasped, it has the power to transform every little irritation, which previously only served to rattle your cage or boost your ego, into a vital spiritual MOT for your heart.
The clear warning, however, is that if we continue to resist God in his ability to challenge and change us, we can only ever be blind to our own sin. We will become people who are stubborn and self-righteous, and are overbearing or unforgiving with others.
It seemed appropriate to write about something that I recognise as a serious need to apply in my own life. As I look back on the past week, I’m shocked at the number of hurts which I have lobbied against others, which I have not even recognised in myself. For these, I can only find the person to say sorry. But for the future, in light of these passages and with God’s help, I’ll take a look at my own Plank Eye first.
By The Cornerstone Team