Today I am thankful for Matthew 7:1-5.
If you’ve been following since Easter you’ll already know that during that time I had started reading bits of the Bible occasionally. Over the past month this has slowed as I’ve let many of the other things in life kind of get in the way. During that time there has been a passage that has kind of haunted me as I’ve made mistakes. Even as I was listening to a business audiobook it was quoted and totally caught me off guard. There’s something that is very unsettling about the passage and I cringe every time it creeps back into my brain.
“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, so shall you be judged; and with whatever measure you measure out, so shall it be measured back to you. And how can you see the splinter in your brother’s eye, and not see the board in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter from your eye,’ while, behold, a board is in your own eye? Hypocrite, first remove the board from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”
I am sad to admit that I can be a very judgmental person. I can let things that are trivial get the best of me. I can look at the faults of others and judge how big their mistakes and issues must be. I sometimes assume I know all I need to know about their faults and I judge them by my assumptions. I sometimes think about how wrong the other person is first, get frustrated by them, and never once look back at myself. I sometimes look at their mistakes and am very thankful that I have never made the same (but knowing deep down that I have).
And that’s why this verse makes me cringe. As soon as it pops in my head it’s like the flag on an ice fishing tip-up springing up or the light bulb of inspiration firing up so brightly that it is blinding. I picture this verse as some type of ego police officer tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Guess what Kreiling? You’ve been busted and are being arrested for 1st Degree Judgmentalnass (yup, the “a” instead of an “e” is on purpose to further the point). Why don’t you take the bottom bunk on the left in cellblock C and think about what you’ve done.”
As I start to see and hear this verse in my head I know that I need to take pause because whatever I was just thinking is most like a flaw of my own that I am not wanting to deal with. Why am I judging someone by a certain thing? Because I am self-conscious of the same. Why am I judging their actions? Because I am self-conscious of similar actions I have made or have failed to make. When I pause to listen think about what I am judging someone on and why it makes me realize that I am the one with the issue. Sure, maybe their wrong too, but I need to work on me first (preferably with some help from The Big Guy). As Father Mark used to put it, times like this help me better see the gap between who I am and who I am called to be. Only in knowing that gap can we begin to close it.
That’s why I am thankful for Matthew 7:15 today. Over the past month when this has popped up in my head it has lead to some very interesting insights. It’s helped as a trigger for me to realize that when I am frustrated with people I almost always have myself to blame. Had I acted differently the situation would be different. Had I thought differently I may have handled a situation differently. Had I taken a moment to put myself in someone else’s shoes I my have handled my conversation with them very differently and given them a hug instead of a sigh of frustration.
As a result of this passage I’m realizing that I have a lot to work on, and I’m okay with that. I’m just thankful to be more aware of what I need to be working on, and this verse helps me keep it in perspective and top of mind daily.