“Ouch!” I thought. “What was that?” I figured I had just stepped on a thumbtack. Until I looked down and saw a two-inch sewing needle sticking out of my foot. It was gruesome.
I almost passed out from surprise. I was in junior high, so of course I crawled to my mom for help and got it out with no real trouble (or tetanus). But it freaked me the heck out when I saw it. I can still see it in my mind.
You know what’s weird? I didn’t know how bad it was until I saw it. It didn’t really hurt that much. But it was definitely a problem.
I keep thinking about inclusivity in the Church. There’s a lot of hoopla and bad blood out there — about who is welcome, who belongs, and where the sin-acceptability line is. It makes me feel sad, because I know people who want to grow closer to Jesus are being turned away. And those outside see the exclusion and discord and don’t get to see the Church loving one another very well.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
I have a log in my eye. There is a lot in me that needs to be worked out by God — including a critical attitude towards others. But you know what? I didn’t know how bad it was until I saw it. God has been pointing out these areas of pride, weakness, and sin in my life that I had conveniently ignored. “They’re not so bad,” I rationalized. “I’m trying to be a pretty good person. Everyone has bad days.”
You know what these words of Jesus mean to me? “Worry about your own stinking log first.”
This can get tangled. Sometimes Christians get all judgy because, look, Jesus called out sin! He called people to repentance and to leave their lives of sin! Absolutely, he did. But he was also Jesus. I’m not so sure I have the same Jesus-level credibility to stand on. Do you?
Worry about your own log first.
Certainly correction is a necessary part of being in relationship with one another. But this is key: it must happen in relationship. When someone has opened up their life to me, I have the opportunity and the responsibility to walk with them towards Jesus. Sometimes that means calling out inappropriate behavior. But it must be done with extreme caution, especially because I am just as likely to fall into the same trap. Paul says:
Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.
Worrying about your own log makes you humble. It gives you compassion. It prevents you from getting all huffy and saying, “Look here, sinner. You have got to stop doing this stuff. You can’t be a Christian if you’re doing/thinking/saying this.”
Dealing with your own log transforms you. It turns your heart from judgmental and hard to broken and soft. And I think that’s a position where we’d better start.
When I thought I’d just stepped on a thumbtack, it was no big deal. Just a little prick. Once I saw it, though, I realized what a big deal it was. I wasn’t about to do anything else until I got it out.