Specks and Logs
Jesus gathers the crowd and begins teaching. What he teaches is important if they are going to live the life of God’s kingdom. During his teaching, he tells them what has been accepted as commonplace will not be the way of God’s kingdom. One area of kingdom life is how we interact with others. Perhaps shockingly, Jesus says not to judge others:
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 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? 5 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.Jesus – Matthew 7:3-5
Jesus tells his listeners, and us…if we are listening, to first get rid of the log in our own eyes before we try looking for specks in someone else’s eyes. If that’s the case, how will they know they have a speck?
The reason Jesus gives for not judging others is simple; We are in no position to judge. Paul in Romans 2, tells us plainly, “When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things (Romans 2:1). Yikes.
Jesus says to not judge others, but he does give us something to do. He tells us to address our own logs. First, we must look within.
A Journey Not Worth Taking
“The unexamined life isn’t worth living.”
The above quote is attributed to Socrates. The Greek aphorism “Know Thyself” complements Socrates’ statement quite well. Both statements point to the importance of self-knowledge. In other words, why do I do what I do? What drives me? What are my motivations, fears, and desires? In other words, what “logs” do I need to address? In some ways, we are like Paul in Romans 7 when he admits that he doesn’t know why he does what he does!
Knowing our internal motivations might not change the world, but it can certainly change us. Which, in some ways, might change the world. Knowing the issues that keep us from being all that Jesus calls us to be will certainly keep us from judging others because we will be so busy at the feet of Jesus asking for grace, we won’t care to judge others.
Planning A Route
When I planned my sabbatical trips, I knew where I wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. For each trip, I would put my destination into Google Maps. But, entering my destination was only one part of what I needed to do. Once I entered my destination, I also needed to enter my starting location.
Google needed both my destination and my location to map a route. I needed to know where I was starting from. If the program didn’t know the beginning location, there’s no way it could map a route to my destination. Knowing where we are is essential to discovering a pathway to where we want to go.
Perhaps you have an idea of who you would like to be or how you would like to “show up.” Maybe there are habits and/or attitudes that are troublesome. You’d like to be ‘better’ or at least different.
A Sacred Journey
We may have an idea of where we would like to end up, but if we don’t know where we are starting, we won’t know the route to our destination. What would be even worse is thinking we are in one location, but being at another one. The route would be completely wrong! Self-knowing enables us to find a route or path to our desired destination.
I understand those who don’t follow the path of self-knowledge. Knowing oneself takes time. It can also be messy and make you feel a bit ‘exposed.’ Sometimes we’d rather assume than know the truth. Yet, Jesus tells us the truth will set us free.
When I say “Self-knowledge” I’m referring to understanding why we do what we do, and what our motivations, fears, and desires are. Following the path of self-knowledge can lead to transformation, if we allow it. The desire to stay as we are can be so strong that we never begin the journey toward change.
Self-knowledge is not an end, but rather the beginning of our journey. In many ways, I’ve been on this journey for a long time. The past three months of having more time for reflection and thinking has given me the time to see some of my “logs.”
For a long time, I’ve had a sense of my destination. I want to be more like Jesus. I desire to love, show grace, display the fruit of the Spirit, and be faithful to Jesus. Knowing the destination isn’t the problem. Figuring out where I’m starting from has been.
Finding our Current Location
So, how do we discern our “current location”? There are some tools and activities that are helpful.
Asking others can be an effective way, but it requires vulnerability, and sometimes I get the sense that people don’t always want to tell you what they think. They hold back because…well…because of love. They don’t want to make anyone feel back about themselves.
Reflection helps. A tool like the “Examine” has us look back over the day, the good and bad parts, all of our interactions, and all that has happened. We offer the whole day back to God while asking God where we went off course. At what point did we not display love, compassion, and understanding? At what point did we cause harm to someone else? We ask God to lead us as we confess where we sinned, and ask for the grace to do better.
Taking a look at our tendencies and personality can give incredible insight into some of our ‘logs’ or blind spots. Tools like the Myers-Briggs, or other tools can be very helpful in opening our eyes to the way we are and how we tend to “show up” to others and the world.
Prayer, of course, is essential in this journey, especially if we are open and receptive to what God wants to do. Open, honest, and receptive prayer may be different from how we normally pray. I was taught to pray “requests” to God. There’s nothing wrong with sharing our desires with God, but if we aren’t careful, we can neglect to be listening to what God wants.
For example, we pray for a promotion because we really, really want it. What if, God wants something else for us? Are we willing and able to pray with openness to the possibility that the promotion might not be as good as we think it is? Are we able to trust God regardless of the results of our requests? When we pray, asking God to show us places of blindness and logs that need to be removed, God may open our eyes to what has been hidden from us.
The Journey of A Million Steps can Start Here
Are you ready for a Sacred Journey? You may know where you are going, but where are you starting? The first step is spending time sharing that desire with Jesus, asking him to give you the grace to discern your current location. Are you ready to take a look at your logs? Are you willing to see those places that don’t align with Jesus? What needs to be confessed? What needs to be addressed?
Just to let you know, I’m on this journey as well. If you are too or at least want to begin, share in the comments. Perhaps we can be traveling companions!