Thursday, January 18, 2018
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When I look out my window I can see everything clearly. But if I need to read these notes right in front of me, I have to put my glasses on. When I'm driving down the road later today, I won't need my glasses. I've got no problem seeing the road ahead, the cars around me, that road kill I want to avoid. But if I need to pull over and look at my map, forget it – I'd better have my glasses or I'll never find that small town I'm looking for. I am, as they say, farsighted.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Seeing What's Far, Missing What's Close."
Farsighted – that means you can see what's far from you, but you've got a problem seeing what's right in front of you. It's a problem many people with perfect eyes have – when it comes to seeing the flaws and the failures that are right in front of them.
Jesus talked about this spiritual farsightedness in our word for today from the Word of God. In Matthew 7, beginning with verse 1, Jesus says, "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 hitting hard here at a tendency we all have – to see very clearly the mistakes and the faults far away – in others, and to miss the mistakes and faults that are right in front of us – in ourselves. Oh, we're good at seeing the flaws in the person we're married to, in our children, in our parent – and being totally oblivious to the things we're doing wrong. We're quick to jump on the failings of a friend, or a coworker, or a supervisor, or a spiritual leader, and totally ignore where we're missing it.
Maybe, if you're honest with yourself, you'd have to admit that you've become a pretty critical person, quick to point out where the people around you are messing up. People feel judged, diminished, categorized, put down when they're around you. There are lots of reasons we're hard on other people. Sometimes, it's because we like to feel superior.
Other times, it's because we feel inferior and we're trying to feel better at their expense. This "attacking the speck and missing the plank" thing can be because we tend to look for someone to blame, because we want to excuse our failings by pointing out theirs. Because we actually see in them something that bugs us about ourselves.
Whatever the reason, Jesus really doesn't like it. He calls us to self-examination, to cleaning up our own yard, and to attacking the garbage that's in us. Yes, there will be times when God will use you to hold up a mirror for someone and help them deal with an issue. But because we're so aware of our own sinfulness, our own failings, we'll do it with humility, not arrogance. We'll do it with gentleness, not harshness. We'll do it reluctantly, not eagerly.
It may be that you can think even now of someone who's felt the hurt or the condemnation, or the belittling of your criticism. You know, you could both experience some wonderful healing if you would tell them you're sorry and ask for their forgiveness.
If you're spiritually farsighted – you tend to see their faults, not yours. Let God give you His glasses to see the man or woman in the mirror. Getting you to be what Jesus wants you to be should be pretty much a full-time job!