Sunday, June 25, 2017

Remove the Wooden Beam

“You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:5

Father, in your spirit of mercy, take away all the judgments that divide us. Jesus, instill in us your spirit of obedience. Holy Spirit, command our hearts and our lives in a way that is worthy of the love, gifts, and mercy showered on us by the Father.

Jesus probably knows how futile it is to ask us to stop judging others. Instead, he warns us about the attitude we should have when we look at the actions of others. Don't stop reading the first verse of this chapter. Make sure you let that second verse resonate.

"As you judge, so will you be judged."

Then how should we judge? What attitude or disposition must we adopt to not face harsh judgment ourselves?

Those whom we remember best from the Bible are those who were either very good at being merciful and obedient to God (Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Abraham and on and on) or those who were very imperfect at mercy and obedience (Cain, Judas, etc.). 

The deeper meaning here, though, as Matthew’s account of Christ’s sermon makes clear, hypocrisy is not reserved solely for the others.  It takes action by two parties to resolve conflicts and to get along.  While many times, the biblical moniker “hypocrite” had been reserved for the scribes and the Pharisees, the notes to the New American Bible explain that it also applies to the Christian disciple who is concerned with the faults of another and ignores his own more serious offenses.

Our other lesson today is the lesson of obedience from Genesis. God told Abram to uproot his family and gather his belongings and leave the place that was closest to his heart and life. Abram did not question what he was being commanded nor where he was being asked to go. He just went as the Lord directed him.

Congruence is making sure what we say reflects what we do…and what we do reflects what we say. 

How hard we find mercy and obedience. Maybe today you can build a bridge back to someone you have lost touch with over the years. You might be surprised to find out how much you might still have in common after all these years.

We need a set of practices which puts us in a proper relationship with God and with our neighbors.  Our conduct toward others may very well correspond to God’s conduct toward us.  Thus, we have to guard against passing judgment in a spirit of arrogance that ignores awareness of our own foibles.  If not, that may just be how the Lord judges us if God were not perfectly merciful.

We cannot just make a point to be politically expedient.  The judgment we make must be consistent with getting the relationships right.  What behavior of ours may be expedient but incongruous?  How can we harmonize what we believe with what we do?  

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