My buddies were on a road trip to Miami, FL back in the 70’s to play baseball. They loaded their baseball gear and suitcases in a friend’s lime green Volkswagon (don’t ask why that color) and hit the road from Ohio. They’d stop and play catch at rest stops and even played wiffle ball once. Heading south meant better weather, so they were excited about the chance to play more ball.
They got into Jacksonville, FL and immediately headed for the beach for some water, waves, and sun. They ran right out of the car down to the water’s edge, glad that the last ten hours of driving were done. They hadn’t changed into their swimming trunks yet, but just stood there, admiring the scenery and soaking up the sunshine and warm breezes.
Joe headed over to the beach area changing room, but Curt grabbed his beach bag and ran back to the car, yelling he’d change there. Hey, they were college students and a bit goofy. And he was half the size of Joe, so he could change clothes in a tight space.
Shortly into his quick change, Curt noticed a young woman looking in through the window at him. He gave a sheepish look and mouthed the words, “Do you mind?” She shrugged her shoulders and stood there. When Curt finished changing and emerged, he yelled at her, “What do you think you are doing? Do you get kicks out of watching people change?” “That depends,” she replied, “Do you enjoy changing clothes in other people’s cars?” Hard to believe there were two lime green Volkswagons in the parking lot, but it was the 70’s. Both were unlocked, too.
Curt told me the story when they got back. It occurred to me that it’s human nature to find fault and be quick to accuse, right? We tend to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt when we should be extending grace to others (and assumption of innocence) until the facts are established and both sides of a story are heard and explained. As my friend learned in the parking lot, making an accusation can be embarrassing, especially when you are wrong.
Read Matthew 7:1-5.
Jesus expressed the problem in stark terms. He compared the sins of others to a “speck of sawdust” (Matthew 7:3). But he called our own sins, “a plank.” Or in my paraphrase, a baseball bat. Jesus continued, “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.” (v 5).
This same idea is addressed by the apostle Paul when he wrote the first century Christians in Galatia. He offered this challenge in Galatians 6:1. In attempting to address the sin(s) of another person, Paul said to be cautious. “You who are spiritual should restore him (or her) gently. But watch yourself, or you may also be tempted.” Jesus and Paul will not allow us to get away from the Biblical concept of looking into your own heart first, as you work to reconciliation.
Do you instinctively blame others? How might this reveal a problem in your behavior and relationships? When was the last time you stopped and said, “I want to apologize. It’s my fault.”
Live communally. When you feel you’ve been offended, ask God for help to show grace to others. Before we try and remove their speck of sawdust, we should first pry the baseball bat out of our own eye. Jesus said the one without sin can go ahead and toss the first rock.
Love is a verb,
©2014 by Mike Olejarz