When I stand on the tee, I don’t need my glasses on to see where my ball is heading off to in the distance, but as I type this post right now, I can’t see clearly enough to do it without them. When I look out at the congregation on a Sunday morning, I can see exactly who is sleeping, but when I look down at my notes I can’t easily tell where I am. I don’t need extra help to see the road ahead of me whilst driving, but to set my satnav in order to find where I am going, my glasses go on as I need all the help I can get. I have what my optician calls Hyperopia. A farsightedness that means I can see what is far from me, but problematic when it comes to seeing what is right in front of me. It is quite common apparently. Seeing what is far and missing what is close, and not just physically but spiritually too if, in SEEING OUR SAVIOUR as we ought, we understand the challenge at the heart of what Jesus says when it comes to spotting the failings in others from miles away, and missing the flaws right in front of our own nose.
In His great sermon on the mount Jesus told us (Matthew 7:1-5)
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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? 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.”
Jesus is speaking to the tendency we all have, to see very clearly from a distance the faults in others, and to miss up front the failings in ourselves. To see the flaws in the person we’re married to, fellowship with or work among, yet remain oblivious to the things we’re doing wrong. Quick to jump on the failings of a friend, our line manager or spiritual leader, and totally ignore where we’re missing the mark.
Maybe, if we are being truly honest with ourselves before the Lord, might we have to admit that we could have become a much more critical person of others, than we would ever like others to be of us? Able with ease to point out where they are messing up, so they may feel wrongly judged, badly diminished, or even put down when they’re around us. We can be hard on others for lots of reasons, but attacking the speck in someone else’s eye and missing the plank in our own is most often because it is easier to excuse our own failings by pointing out theirs; that we can see in them something that annoys us or frustrates us about ourselves.
Whatever the reason, Jesus speaks against it. Instead, He calls us to self-examination, to the cleaning up of our own house and then throwing out of the inconsistencies in us. Of course, there will be times when God will use us to rightly hold up a mirror for someone and help them deal with an issue, but because in SEEING OUR SAVIOUR we are so aware of our own sinfulness and failings, we will do it with humility, not arrogance. We will do it with gentleness, not harshness. We will do it reluctantly, not eagerly.
It may be that even as we read this, someone comes to mind who may have felt the hurt, condemnation, or the belittling of our criticism. What healing there is in saying we are sorry and then asking for forgiveness. Followers of Christ suffering from Hyperopia focus in on other’s faults as easily as I can spot my golf ball heading into the distant trees. But in SEEING OUR SAVIOUR, God gives us His glasses to see ourselves in the mirror with all our own mess ups and mistakes first. God give us all the vision we need.
Your Friend and Pastor