“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?” Matthew 7:3
Jesus asks this question of us for such a valid reason. How easy is it for us, after all, to see what is “wrong” in others and not realize that we, too have faults. Isn’t it also often the case that the things that bother us most about ourselves, especially those things we haven’t fully acknowledged to ourselves that we possess, are the very things we think we see so clearly in somebody else?
If we manage with the help of the Holy Spirit to become master observers of our own actions and thoughts, then we take a step closer to doing the very thing Christ asks us to do: we look at others to see their true needs without judging them. In other words, we see right past any “specks” to reach out in what Paul would call “brotherly love.”
One of the easiest ways to start looking out for others without judging them is to pray for them. When you start bringing other people’s challenges before God, like illnesses, job issues, stresses, loss, etc., you realize how much we humans have in common. You come closer to walking a mile in the other person’s shoes, which means seeing the world through the other person’s eyes, the ultimate step toward achieving the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you or Treat others as you would treat yourself.
As with any Christian action we want to take, our prayers must begin and end with love. We cannot make a request of God that is actually a judgment we have wrapped up in “concern” to make it look better. God sees through our words to the true motives deep in our hearts, after all. By concentrating on the will of God to be done in any situation, we can become more peaceful about any situation because we have handed it over to Him.
Part of our prayers for others should include asking for guidance on what our actions should be in the situation. What should we be doing to help, if anything, beyond our prayers? Should we make some food to take to the person, send the person a card, offer to go with the person to a doctor’s visit, simply be sure to acknowledge the person and his/her pain when we see them, etc? If we ask God for guidance on a regular basis, He will provide it to us. And we will be more open to that guidance because we are in ongoing, open communication with Him.
Looking past the speck of those around us to try to see people as God sees them can be as simple as smiling at the people you pass in the hall at school, leaning down to help somebody pick up something they have dropped, holding open a door as you go in or out of a shop. If you see things in others that make you recoil, before reacting in judgment, take a moment to think about where you would be if God had looked at the REAL you without mercy and grace:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
Only because Christ loved us enough to die for us are we saved from our sin and able to approach the Almighty God in prayer. That gift of grace alone should make us gracious to others on a daily basis.
But, living in a fallen world where the devil takes stabs at us every chance he gets, being gracious takes dedication, devotion, the Holy Spirit, practice, and God. The most practical way to shine the light of Jesus may just be to realize that, though we stumble, it is the fact that we keep rising again, ready to start anew in our commitment, that makes us children of the Light that is Jesus.
My practical step to shine His light this week: I won’t be looking for specks. I’m going to see the part of me I want God to love in the faces of the people I encounter this week. And I’m going to treat them just like I want that inner, most vulnerable part of me to be treated. And I’m going to need God’s help to do that all the way. He will provide.