By Andrea Herzer
“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?” - Matthew 7:4-5
Nine years ago, I needed to do physical therapy on my knee. Because I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, it was determined that water therapy would best suit my needs. The therapy pool was warm enough to relax my muscles, and finally being able to exercise made me feel like a kid again. It helped my pain so much that we installed a therapy pool with a swim current in my backyard; it is a glaringly large backyard behemoth. Despite its looks, I am grateful to have it. I work hard to keep it sparkling clean so that I will never have an excuse not to use it.
One day, I noticed that the water level was getting a bit low. I got out, still wearing my water shoes, and dragged our hose over to fill it when I noticed a bug in the pool. In order to skim the bug, I had to get back into the pool, but I successfully skimmed this one tiny creature out. As I turned around to admire the crystal clear water, I saw that the surface was covered with grass clippings! In my eagerness to remove a tiny bug, I neglected to examine myself before getting into the pool. Today’s Bible verses immediately came to my mind. If I had examined myself before trying to remove that tiny speck of an insect, I would not have created such a mess!
When Jesus taught these verses on judging others, he was addressing the issue of hypocrisy. The word is from the Greek “hupokrités” which means an actor or pretender. We act like hypocrites when we pretend to be without sin, preferring instead to correct others of their shortcomings. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Imagine someone with an actual log in their eye trying to remove a small splinter from the eye of a friend. Jesus says this is what we are doing when we try to correct someone without first examining ourselves. I imagine that someone with a splinter would not take too kindly to having it pointed out by a person who has a tree trunk in their eye!
God gives us this instruction to remind us not to stand in judgment, but He is also showing us the need to examine ourselves carefully. We need the humility that comes when we search our hearts and confess our sins to God if we are to help someone else with their sin. Once we take that “log” out of our eye we will be able to see more clearly to help others. If you recall the pain a log in your eye caused you, and you are grateful to have it removed, you will be much kinder and gentler the next time you notice a speck needs to be removed from another person’s eye. (See Galatians 6:1
Practice true repentance that leads to genuine fellowship with God and others. Don’t dirty the waters of your relationships by rushing in to judge without the proper perspective of a humble and contrite heart. Straining a gnat might be good for a pool, but it can be tough on a relationship, and both require self-examination or you risk making a big mess. Spend some time in prayer right now. Ask God to show you any “logs” of sin that might be blocking your view. Confess your sin and thank Him for the forgiveness that is yours in Jesus Christ.
Having spent the past two decades enduring life with multiple illnesses, including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Andrea Herzer is intimately acquainted with the hardships that accompany debilitating health issues. She writes devotionals on her Facebook Group (Abundant Life for Abundant Illness) to help others who are in the midst of pain and suffering. Andrea is currently completing her first devotional book, The Way Through Illness. Andrea lives in Texas with her remarkable husband Mark. They have three nearly-grown children, Carly, Sarah, and Zach. She can be reached here for speaking engagements or interest in her book proposal.
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