Shifting our focus on things that are of God
It is so easy to point out the wrongdoings, failures, and flaws of those around us. It comes so naturally to each of us; we are quick to tolerate our own sins and even justify them. It seems at this moment in time that our eyes are upon everything going on around us in society. It is easy to find things that we consider wrong and offensive. Robert West said this, “Nothing is easier to do than fault-finding, no talent needed, no self-denial exerted, no brain activity needed, no character is required to set up in the grumbling business.” Anyone at any time can complain and find issues with others, and it happens at an alarming rate. Social media has created a platform for grumbling and expressing our disdain for what others are doing. As a Christian, what is right and holy?
Jesus says this in Matthew 7:1-5, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” The Greek word judge here means: To criticize and condemn. Judging according to the Greek definition is fault finding, being fussy, and the habit of criticism. Jesus has a real problem when we choose to criticize, condemn, and find faults with each other. If we are finding faults, it should be our own first. We must choose to self-evaluate and look for what needs changing in our own lives before we start to try to correct others. We must shift our main focus to ourselves.
Marci Ferrell says, “Would you trust a partially blind eye surgeon to do surgery on your eye or would you prefer to have a surgeon with perfectly clear eyesight? The eye is a delicate organ and one that must be handled with care. You would want someone who can see clearly and handle the surgery with great care and gentleness and with preciseness. It is no different with the souls of people. If we had an issue that needed to be addressed in our lives, we would want someone who could see clearly. We would want someone who has a true spiritual vision, in their own lives and then into mine. They can’t remove a speck from my eye with a beam in theirs.” When Billy Graham’s wife Ruth, was desperately praying for one of her sons who was living an ungodly life, she made a list of things she needed to pay attention to within herself. She could have easily pointed out his issues and problems, but she decided to shift her focus to her own life. As she changed things in her life, it began to make an impact on her prodigal son. As she prayed, God revealed her own flaws and shortcomings, and then once she was able to correct those items, she was able to pray wholeheartedly for her son.
Instead of offering constructive advice to our neighbors, we often find ourselves being destructive. We don’t take the time to remove the log out of our eye before we go digging out someone’s speck. We need to help our brothers and sisters with the specks in their eyes, but Jesus tells us to first remove the planks from our eyes. When we do this, we are humbled and ready to love our brothers and sisters. We are motivated by concern instead of criticism. Seeing ourselves requires us to change our perspective. After David had sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed, Nathan the prophet told him a story about a man who had killed another man’s only lamb and fed it to his guests. The wealthy man in the story had sheep of his own, but decided to take the other’s man only lamb which was like a child to him. David was furious and said the man who took away and killed the lamb should be killed. It was very easy for David to see the transgression and assign a punishment. Nathan goes on to tell David that he is that man because he took Bathsheba away from Uriah. David had chosen not to see his own sin up until this story of another person was told. Friends, it is so easy to allocate retribution while not seeing our wrongdoings. I challenge each of you to shift your focus from what is going on around you and from what others are saying and doing, and instead look at your own actions and words. Once we are able to change ourselves, we can change everything else.
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton)