(Jesus speaking) "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eyes,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (ESV)
Imagine two four-year-old boys. They both want the same truck. It's a dump truck. Not just any dump truck...it's a bright yellow, Tonka dump truck. Both boys have a firm grip on this treasure, and each has tried to wrestle it from the other's hand for several minutes. Now, tired from the fight, they are reduced to words. "You let go." "No, you let go." "I'm not gonna let go...I had it first." "No you didn't; I had it first." And so the fight goes on.
Now imagine two forty-four year old men (or boys). They go to a church in which half the church is just about ready to leave because of a huge division in the church. These two men are on opposing sides of the issue. They have raised their children together, and they have walked through difficult times with one another. One lost his mother to cancer, and the other had a rebellious teenage son that still hasn't returned. They have sat with each other, cried with each other, prayed for one another, and held one another accountable through it all.
During this church conflict, though, they have come to be on opposite sides of the issue at hand. They have thought and said things to and about each other (and to third parties) that are completely dishonoring to one another and to God. They are not proclaiming they belong to Christ through their love for one another. There is a deep, abiding bitterness that can be suppressed enough for a superficial handshake or a 10-minute bowl of chili at the Wednesday night supper. However, like the four-year-olds with their truck, these men shoot thoughts back and forth.
- "You're wrong."
- "No, you're wrong."
- "You know, if you'd just repent and confess your sin against me...just say you hurt me...I'll forgive you and we can get on with this."
- "Well, if anyone's going to start the confessing, it'll be you, not me. You're the one that's planning on leaving the church."
- "Yeah, and I'll be leaving soon if someone (hint, hint) doesn't humble himself and ask for forgiveness."
- Do I really need to go on?
What is the truck? What is the treasure? Being right...not being wrong. The treasure is not truth anymore...it's not Christ anymore...it's not God's glory in the church anymore. It's not so about right and wrong as it is about ME being right and YOU being wrong. You being in sin and my only need being to forgive it...if you ever repent.
It seems that the problem in this scenario is the problem in many marital relationships and many churches...whether they are physically divided or not. It is an issue of pride vs. humility. You see, pride is like x-ray vision...it helps us see right through the log in our own eyes to pick out the speck in our brother's eye. We can't see our own bitterness, our own hatred, our own lust, our own pride, or even the justification we so sinfully use to cover it up. All we think is that if the person on the "wrong" side of this deal would just repent, everything would be fine. He was wrong...not me. She sinned...not me.
Humility is quick to confess...pride is quick to justify. Humility seeks out the person offended...pride waits in hiding. Humility primarily sees my sin...pride primarily sees yours. Humility receives grace from God...pride receives opposition from God. The problem is that we love our pride so much that not even opposition from God scares us into letting it go; it is in this case that we are most certainly blind to reality. We are blind to our own sin, but we see with 20/20 vision the sins of others. It is a very evil and very alluring temptation our enemy offers, isn't it?
Broken relationships and church divisions would not stay that way if humility beat out pride. Even now, my friends, you could be in a situation where there is sin on two sides of a conflict in your church. Whether it's in the issue itself or the attitude with which the issue is handled, sin abounds. Do not be so prideful as to fold your arms and wait for someone else to do the right thing (i.e.- humble themselves and confess sin) before you do it. Do not be so prideful as to read a blog like this and think, "Man, that's a good word for someone else." It's not for someone else! It's for you! Don't be a logface! Humble yourself, ask God to search your heart long and hard with His glorious and holy light for sin, and then confess it to Him and to the appropriate person(s). Seek peace and pursue it!
It is only then that you can be a tool of God to remove the speck from another's eye. It is only then that Paul would call on you as part of "those who are spiritual" to help restore your brothers trapped in transgressions (Galatians 6:1). Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
This is my prayer, and I hope it is yours as well. Oh, God...let humility begin with me. Keep me from interpreting your Word according to my situation and sinful attitude...instead, interpret me and my situation by Your Word. Grant the courage to be humble and confess any and all sin to You and to those from whom I need forgiveness. Restore broken relationships so that they are whole again. Keep me from the temptation to feel good and right...all the while being a logface and far from where You want me.