It’s permeated our lives but maybe we are becoming desensitized to it. In recent times, a lot of name-calling, pigeon-holing, and downright nasty verbiage assaults us in all arenas of our everyday lives.
You know what I’m talking about. In politics, in social issues, in religion, even about the you know what, nothing is spared. People call out others as this word or that. You’re (fill in the blank) so you must be (fill in the blank).
Judging and denigrating others just because they don’t concur with your point of view has become the norm. I recently listened to someone vent because another person’s social media post called folks “lower functioning” because they don’t choose to partake in a certain aspect of healthcare.
Really? Belittling people because they don’t agree with you? Are you as frustrated and weary of it all as I certainly am? I may have opposing personal beliefs and views from other folks, but I’m not going to slap a label on them because of it, spew forth vile words about them, or resort to name calling.
I’m no saint as I can be just as foolish with my words as the next person but there is a good reason why I refrain from joining the fray of divisiveness.
Just the other day, Papa and I took a Sunday drive after church. A warm, sunny afternoon prompted us to jump in the car and meander down some country roads. Eventually, the lure of ice cream caused a detour to nearby suburbs in search of a Baskin Robbins. That mint chocolate chip scoop of creamy yumminess was calling my name and German chocolate was beckoning to Papa.
On our way home, we traveled through more trafficked areas and while stopped at a stop light, I noticed a vehicle ahead of us that sported a plethora of stickers on its rear window and bumper. And then I spotted this: “Just another Republican working hard so you don’t have to.”
And you know what? I confess that, at first, I laughed but then as I ruminated over that opinion, that bumper sticker bothered me, not because I have anything against Republicans or Democrats or Independents or whatever your political affiliation may be. What didn’t sit well with me was the statement implied that all members of any other political party are slackers. And that’s just not true.
I don’t write this to engage in any kind of political debate because that’s not the purpose of my blog and never has been. Neither do I express my political views in writing here nor on social media because I know invariably someone will disagree and try to argue with me or categorize me with a label. Frankly, there’s enough outrageous division among us Americans and I do not want to contribute to it.
And that brings me to the point of my post today. Why are we so quick to examine other people’s lives and respond with criticism, anger, and judgement but we don’t stop, use self-control, and check our attitudes by thoroughly examining our own lives? And let me assure you, I am just as guilty of this as anyone else.
I’m reminded that, in two of the gospels of the New Testament in God’s Word, we are advised to inspect ourselves and our motives in calling out others in wrongdoing. In both Matthew and Luke, Jesus reminds us to basically check ourselves first.
Luke 6:41-42: “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, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
In some versions, the word log is used instead of plank. Compare a speck to a log. Big difference huh?
I live in a region of my state with forests and often logging takes place in those areas. A few months ago, I watched for several minutes (and snapped photos) while large logs were loaded onto a truck for transportation. Those logs were huge and one certainly couldn’t help but see them!
But sometimes huge logs are sticking out of my eye and I ignore them. So if I notice the speck in your eye (your life) when I believe you are (fill in the blank) and resort to calling you a (fill in the blank), I first better check that log (my own thoughts, words, and actions) in my own eye (life).
I recently read another translation of these same verses in The Passion version of the Bible: “Why do you focus on the flaw in someone else’s life and fail to notice the glaring flaws of your own life? How could you say to your friend, ‘Here, let me show you where you’re wrong,’ when you are guilty of even more than he? You are overly critical, splitting hairs and being a hypocrite! You must acknowledge your own blind spots and deal with them before you will be able to deal with the blind spot of your friend.”
What does this tell me? That I need to examine myself, not to serve myself or dote on my self-centered nature, or justify “my way or the highway,” but instead I need to focus on the One who gave me the instruction above.
I don’t know about you, but I’m taking some time to gaze into the mirror searching for my own log-sized planks, which will become apparent when I focus on my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Because sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.
“If we focus on self we see nothing, if we focus on others we see specks in their eyes, if we focus on Christ we see the logs in our own eyes.” ~ Burk Parsons