Thursday, September 10, 2015

Blind to Our Own Faults

By Colleen O’Sullivan

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.  Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  (I Timothy 1:13-14)

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?  (Luke 6:41)

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
(from Amazing Grace, John Newton*)

Not long ago I got new glasses with progressive lenses.  It’s great to be able to drive, work at the computer, and read with only one pair of glasses!  It took all of about two hours to get used to not having to adjust the position of my glasses on my nose or switch to another pair.   As I was reading today’s Scripture readings, I thought to myself, too bad we don’t have this ease and clarity of vision when it comes to how we view ourselves and others.

In fact, in talking to the disciples, Jesus says we’re downright blind at times.  How is it that we can be so judgmental of others and fail to see the sinfulness that should be equally apparent in our own lives?  The blindness must set in early, because even little kids, when confronted with some wrongdoing, often attempt to exonerate themselves by coming out with some supposedly more egregious act committed by another child!

The apostle Paul has a better approach.  Own up to the wrongs we have committed and the good we have left undone.  Experience God’s merciful forgiveness.  Turn away from whatever sin(s) we’re guilty of.  And don’t ever forget where we’ve been and how it’s only by the grace of God that we’re not still there.  If we keep all those things in mind, it’s a lot harder to judge anyone else.

I’ve just finished reading The High Flyer by Susan Howatch.  The main character is a woman who is a partner at a prestigious London law firm, who meets another lawyer from another, equally prominent London law firm.  They quickly embark upon a disastrous marriage.  As the story unwinds, she realizes that there are huge holes in the story her new husband has told her about who he is and where he comes from.  As soon as one web of lies is exposed, however, he invents another.  This pattern continues until the day he commits suicide.  His widow then falls completely to pieces, almost unable to function.  The interesting thing is that real healing begins only when she admits to herself that the characteristics she despised so much in him are also part of her make-up, although manifested in far different ways. How often the splinters in others’ eyes are simply reflections of the wooden beams in our own.  We put down what we can’t stand in ourselves.

When you are praying today, hold your wooden beam in the palm of your hand.  Show it to Jesus and tell him about it.  Tell him how much you want to get rid of it, how much you long to see clearly.   Sit quietly with the Lord and allow his mercy and forgiveness to flow over you.

*Try to ignore the poor spelling and just enjoy the music!

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