I learn a valuable lesson about looking at my own faults, rather than pointing the finger at everyone else around me.
“I don’t know what to do about Alex, she’s always poking her nose in other peoples business,” I say to my friend Sarah. “You’d think she’d realize that she shouldn’t be doing that. You’d think it would be obvious.”
Sarah gives me a piercing look. “Aren’t you doing the exact same thing right now, just by saying that about her?” she asks me.
Am I doing the same?
Her answer brings me up short. My first reaction is to defend myself. I’m not poking my nose in her business! Am I? I’m just concerned for Alex that she doesn’t realize that what she’s doing is wrong. Right? But now I’m not so sure.
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1. It’s so easy to see that Alex should not be getting involved in other people’s business. But after what Sarah said, suddenly I realize that maybe my methods are different, but the underlying motive is the same. I realise that it’s super close to me too, to react and behave according to my human nature. So if I didn’t even see it in myself, isn’t it logical to assume that Alex doesn’t see it either?
So do I really need to do something about it, to set her straight, to let her know that what she’s doing is not right? Or shouldn’t I rather examine myself and see what my intentions are? I need to look inward and see if it’s actually only because I am annoyed. If it’s because of the effect that it has on me. If it’s because I think that I am better. Because I find her behaviour irritating. Any reason that doesn’t come from love is not a good reason.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’, and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:4-5.
If I genuinely love someone and am concerned that their behaviour is hurtful for them or for someone else, then I can say something out of love and concern. Those are the kinds of words and exhortations that usually have a good effect. Why would I think that something said out of irritation or pride or any other kind of selfish reason is going to have a good effect on someone? In every single situation it is my own sin that I need to find, and then I need to throw it in the fire of purification. (Hebrews 12:29) Then what comes out of the fire will be genuine and divine.“Like gold that is refined.” Zechariah 13:9.
So it’s a matter of switching my perspective from the others to myself. To allow God’s light to shine on my life and see the sin that He points out. To love the truth about myself and acknowledge that, yes, that is how I am; God help me to come free from it. That where I see pride, I can take up a battle against it and I can become humble. That where I was bitter, there I can become good and kind, that where I was judging I can become long-suffering and loving.
So I can forget worrying about Alex and what she’s doing. I’m going to focus on Jesus; I’m going to compare my life to His so that I can see the work that still needs to be done in my own life. And I’m going to be humble to acknowledge what I see and allow God to work with me so that I can be conformed to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29) I’m a work in progress, but it’s a work that I’m going to continue for the rest of my life.