I was running the vacuum cleaner last night. It wasn’t a major, thorough cleaning, just an area of carpet where someone had tracked in some mud—the kind that has dried in those little grooves in the bottom of your shoes and comes off one little chunk at a time as you walk. As I vacuumed, it seemed like the floor wasn’t getting any better. In fact, I could have sworn that the place I just ran the machine over was clean just a moment ago. It was almost like the dirt was growing out of the carpet. The more I swept, the more there seemed to be.
Then, I spotted the culprit—or should I say culprits—right there on my own feet. It seems I was out in the yard and stepped on some muddy spots. I thought that I had wiped it all off, but there before me lay evidence to the contrary.
Have you ever found yourself doing something like that? You know all the examples—things like reacting to someone else’s shallow relationship with the Lord by gossiping, griping, and complaining about them, showing yourself to be no more mature spiritually than they are. Most of us, if we’re honest about it, would have to say yes. It’s an unfortunate but true fact of life that we humans seem to have a universal knack for spotting other people’s shortcomings while ignoring our own.
Jesus understood this basic, universal flaw in people. He spoke to it in the Gospels:
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Mat 7:1-5 NNAS)
There seems to be something about human beings that gives us wonderfully clear vision when examining other’s faults qhile striking us blind, deaf, dumb, and stupid when we discuss our own shortfalls. Jesus used dramatic terms to demonstrate this. The whole image of having “a log in your eye” is one that we can hardly grasp. The funny thing here is that, if you really do have a log in your eye, other people can see it whether you can or not. The ones who see that major flaw but don’t really react to it much—loving you in spite of it—are the truly mature.
If we focus on “taking the log out of our own eye”, we’ll be far too busy with that project to even notice that speck in the other guy’s eye.
And if I would take my shoes off at the door, I’d have to do a lot less vacuuming.