41 [Jesus said,] “Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s or sister’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Brother, Sister, let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the log in your own eye? You deceive yourselves! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.”
Whenever I think my speech tends to lean too much toward the hyperbolic, I try to remember that Jesus talked that way too.
I mean, picture what Jesus is talking about here. Stop reading for a moment and try to conjure the image: one person trying to scan another’s eye for a speck of dust, all the while having a giant log sticking out of their face.
As a contact lens wearer, I can attest that it only takes the smallest bit of pollen, dust, snow – anything – to make your eye incredibly uncomfortable. When there is something in my eye, my physical response often looks ridiculous: usually I stand up, put my hand over my eye, stomp my feet, and, depending on who is in earshot, I may say some very colorful things. If someone is with me, they will invariably ask: “Are you ok?” with a very concerned look on their face. Eventually it will either work itself out, or I will have to go and try to get the lens out of my eye.
No matter what, the pain can’t be ignored. I can’t do nothing. In fact, in that moment it’s all I can think of. So the idea that anyone could even try to assist someone else while having a log sticking out of their eye is absolutely ridiculous.
One of my all-time favorite YouTube videos is of a little girl who is clearly struggling to buckle herself into her car seat. And yet she doesn’t want any help. Every time Dad offers, she responds: “Worry about yourself!”
That’s the message here: first, worry about yourself. When we don’t do that, when we don’t tend to our own heart/ life/ sin / woundedness first, then we can’t expect to be of any use to anyone else. We can’t see the speck in someone else’s eye when there’s a log sticking out of ours. And we can’t help others with their wounds until we’ve first allowed God to tend to our own.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
“Worry about yourself” doesn’t mean that we have to do it all ourselves. That’s not the point of faith. But it does mean that we have to admit our own mistakes/ hurt/ brokenness and invite God in before we can help someone else. So if you have been feeling low on grace/ understanding/ compassion lately, maybe it’s time to take a moment with God today to “worry about yourself.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, just for today, we ask prayers for ourselves first. We pray that you might enter into the places of pain, disappointment, and regret we carry in our souls. Remind us that you see all of it, and that you have promised to love us through it, bringing light and hope into even the darkest corners of our hearts. Amen.