Your log, my speck… Wait, that’s not it.

Luke 6: 40-42

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother: ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brothers eye”

As followers of Jesus, we are being conformed to his image and we have a responsibility not only to become increasingly like Him, but also to assist our brothers in their quest to be like Him too. So we hold each other accountable, rebuke one another, encourage one another, correct one another, help one another; bear one another’s burden’s etc. Some of these activities (read rebuke/correction) are not fun especially if we are on the receiving end of the rebuke.  In times past I mostly interpreted the above verse as prohibiting me entirely from correcting my brother when they are wrong. It’s one of those verses you read, feel guilt and figure you should shut-up permanently. After all, at any one moment, I am largely unaware of the plethora of ways in which I may be, and probably am, sinning. Ergo, I have no moment when I have a right to confront my brother for their sin. Right?

Wrong. 

Thinking about the above verse, it appears to play out something like this:

1. Question: Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Answer: That’s a good question! Why is that happening?  If you think about it, a log is infinitely larger than a speck. Extending the analogy to its logical conclusion, it becomes clear that this log must be obvious to you, not least of all because your eye is probably itchy; red; tearing and uncomfortable as a result of its presence. So WHY do you ‘not notice’? Well, I suspect the problem is not that we do not notice this nasty irritating thing in our eye (duh!); its not that we are ignorant of this log, the problem is that we are ignoring it. This passage is not about how hidden sin disqualifies you from dealing with your brothers sin (otherwise you’d have to wait until heaven to confront your brother….which is really quite pointless!) Rather, Jesus seems to be talking about the fact that there are revealed sins we DO know about (perhaps sins we’ve been talk to about) which we are consciously, voluntarily not dealing with and because we are not dealing with them all attempts to rebuke our brothers will inevitably make us:

2. Hypocrites! Yup. If the above person is us then we are pretending! We are claiming to see on one hand and to be blind on the other. We are saying ‘hey my sights so good I can help you take out this speck and at the same time ‘oh no I don’t see  this protruding thing in my own eye’.  We are lying.  Lying to others and perhaps, at some point, will end up lying to/deceiving ourselves if we avoid dealing with the sin long enough.

So, again,  question: if you ‘can’t see’ your own glaring obvious sin how well-equipped are you to deal with someone else’s sin?

3. Answer: you’re not well equipped! At all. If anything your dangerous to your brother. You need to hold up a mirror to your own eye; take out your own log and THEN (and only then) take out the speck in your brothers ( and yes…really… take it out!) Once you acknowledge and deal with your log, life becomes so much clearer and you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brothers eye.

So, what I think is that Jesus is saying is that sin that’s being ignored in my life: prayerlessness, abandoning the habit of meeting together with saints, being unfaithful in doing my duties – name it – will significantly undermine my capacity to be useful to my brother. Until I take out my log I’m not in a good position to help others not least because my motivations and attitudes in doing so could (most likely will) be all wrong and I could end up being mean or self-righteous or hurtful or all manner of other unhelpful things and seeking to do things in selfishness rather than God’s love.

While my logs remain unchecked I am a dangerous person to my brothers. A hazard to everyone’s eyes, if you will! I will probably leave people terribly scarred by my saving exploits.  But if I take out my own log, my own health benefits, my own peace is restored and my usefulness to my brother: my ability to help him/her enhance his/her own sight by gently+firmly pointing out to him/her things he/she genuinely may not even have noticed, is greatly increased.

May God help us.

– J

Advertisements

Home …

It hit me when I was already at my doorstep. I had left my house keys at the office.

This has never happened before, perhaps it was because I was having a bad day. I couldn’t imagine going all the way back to the city center. It was 6 pm — the traffic will be unbearable. But what choice did I have?

I remembered it when I was at the main gate, on my way out. I had a spare key in the house! I hoped against hope that I could get to it — if only I could remember where I had last seen it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. After wracking my brain trying to retrace my steps in the last couple of days, I recalled that I had put the key in one of my jeans trouser pockets.

Perhaps you’re wondering how a key inside the pocket of a dirty trouser in a basin somewhere inside a locked house was going to help me. Reaching it would be out of the question. But you see, it wasn’t.

This was my house. My space. My home.

The thing about my place is that it is not very organized (ducks). That was my first clue. I ran back up the stairs hoping against hope that I had done what came naturally — left my dirty trousers on the seat in the living room. After much improvisation, I was able to open the window and push aside the curtain. I have never been more happy to see dirty jeans on the couch.

I reached in using a wire, pulled the trousers towards me and retrieved my spare key. I didn’t have to make another trip all the way back to the office.

Some things only happen at home. I like to think that I am only disorganized at home, though perhaps my colleagues may argue the point. But I am not that tidy. Clean, yes. Tidy, debatable.

But that’s the beauty of home. You don’t have to impress anyone or live up to other people’s standards at home. At home, you can be yourself. You can walk around in your baggy, holy (not the Biblical holy) pajamas without a care in the world. Your family has seen worse and they can identify you by the smell of your sweat. It is only taboo to air your dirty linen in public; nobody said anything about airing it in your house.

I am still a bachelor, and I live alone. At my house, I am the cook, the cleaner, the electrician, the decorator, the political analyst, the bread winner and the bread eater. I am all things to all chores.

Home is also where I am an expert at everything, or rather, I don’t have to be an expert at anything.

Outside the home, there is pressure to excel in at least one thing. Sometimes it’s because our survival depends on it. Only good engineers get hired, and color-blind people don’t get to be professional camera-men.

But at home, I am content to simply be me. There’s no pressure to impress. My family knows me, and loves me anyway.

Of course there are those occasions where parents are perfectionists and children feel the need, or rather the pressure, to live up to their expectations. Yes, the home can be dysfunctional. In fact, it often is. Even so, no matter how common this exception is, it is still not the rule. East or west, home is best.

Charity begins at home because that’s where selfishness ends. At home, you don’t mind having less so that your brother may have some. When you’re at home, you don’t feel the pressure to measure up or keep up with the Joneses – you’re already a Jones.

The home gives us a glimpse of how life in the church ought to look like. It is an imperfect peek into the kind of realness, fragility and openness that the Body of Christ ought to depict within itself. No need to be an expert here, no pressure to impress, no compulsion to compete. You can sing to the LORD with your shower voice and won’t feel embarrassed. You are simply being you.

I am not saying that the church is the place we let our sins slide because the Body “will understand”. I am saying that the church, like home, is the place we let our sins out in the open because we know they are covered by the blood of Christ and the Body “will prop us”.

But even as I write that previous sentence, I feel the need to edit it and punctuate it with several “oughts”. The church ought to be like home.

Charity begins at home because charity begins in the family — which was God’s original design. Could charity also begin in the church? Is your church your home? Is the church your family?

Are you a member of your church because yo signed up and a committee approved or are you a member because you owned up your sin and God approved you through Christ?

If home is where the heart is, where is your heart?

Or could it be because the church is where your hurt is?

Cornell.

Lyrical Review: Mateke by Size 8 […And Some Tips for the Artist]

The popular local secular singer/actress, Size 8, finally “came out” and confessed that she has been a Christian for a while. For a long time, she had struggled with the apparent contradiction between her music and her faith, and she finally decided to make the switch. As she explains in a recent interview, “I have been born again for quite some time and my songs were in conflict with my faith. As much as I was making big cash and commanding a massive fan base, my heart was not at peace.”

There has been a myriad of reactions concerning her announcement. The pendulum swings from skeptics (believers and unbelievers) who are convinced that she is only in it for the money in Gospel music; to the other extreme of Christians who are unreservedly celebrating the entrance of one more lost soul into the Kingdom. There’s also an apprehensive minority who have chosen to reserve their comments, wait it out and see if Size 8’s new found faith will stand the test of time.

If you’re wondering where I stand in that spectrum, I think these words from Paul best describe my current stand: Continue reading Lyrical Review: Mateke by Size 8 […And Some Tips for the Artist]

The Church Bus

busI think the bus is turning out to be one of my favorite classrooms in life. It happened again today, as I commuted to church this morning. We were running late and there was some traffic build up near Westlands. So, the driver decided to take a detour and pass through some back-roads to avoid the traffic. This is illegal by the way, but none of the passengers seemed to mind. We had everything to gain and nothing to lose. Personally, I was already running late for church. Furthermore, this is not the first time something like this has happened. Bus drivers take illegal turns and routes all the time. It’s normal. Except today. We hadn’t gone for more than 200 meters when the driver took a right turn that would lead to a great lesson on the importance of church and fellowship. Continue reading The Church Bus

Blog Break (4 Feb 13)

Perhaps the reason you seldom look forward to Mondays is because you don’t really get what’s so special about Sundays. This Monday’s blog break features insightful articles on the power and purpose of being part of a biblical church community:

  1. First, let’s get definitions out of the way. THE ESSENTIAL: CHURCH is part of a series of theological terms that Tim Challies has been posting every Sunday for awhile now. Take note of the correlation between the universal church and the local church: “That you belong to the global church implies that you will belong to and be actively involved in a local church as well, for, as Hebrews suggests, your faith and obedience depend on it.”
  2. In WATCH OUT, OR THE DEVIL’S GONNA GET YOU Jonathan Parnell discusses the central role that active membership in a local church plays in our fight against sin and the devil’s ploys. “God has designed our warfare to include one another. We can’t wield the shield of faith alone. We need brothers and sisters to come alongside us to hold up our arms. More specifically, we need brothers and sisters to speak faith-building words to our souls.”
  3. Lastly, THE GLORY OF PLODDING is a short excerpt that is aimed at those Christians who don’t want to be “tied down to institutional religion”. You know, the “I love Jesus but hate religion” sloganeers? Kevin DeYoung has something to say about that.

Have a blessed reading time and remember, church is not a place we go to, it is a Body that we belong to. We don’t go there, we live there. We are in The Church, even on Monday. So rejoice and give thanks.