The Discipline of Self Awareness

“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? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. — Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

Our conversation must have wandered not having a lot of news to share. I had made my daily call home as is my practice when I’m on the road. Since I’m in Las Vegas, she’s probably insisting on a call just to check up.

Anyway, we got to talking about how hard it is to see your own sins and difficulties. It’s so easy to see what’s wrong with others. Although many people (most? all?) have sins hidden from public  view, many seem to live out their sins in public. Makes for good conversation, I guess. Or interesting Facebook posts. (I have cut way back on the amount of time I scan Facebook posts, by the way.)

It is easy for everyone to fall into this habit. But Jesus reserved his anger (it sure sounds like anger, doesn’t it?) for a specific group of people. These were the Pharisees.

These people made a detailed study of the Law. They memorized it. They interpreted it. To their credit, they tried to live it.

Unfortunately, living the letter of the Law usually means a bad attitude. It breeds contempt. It breeds the attitude that “I’m better than you–here, I can prove it.” Yet, their sins are hidden  somewhere in the depths (we’ll let Freud have a field day on uncovering those). And they act (put on a mask to assume a different persona–therefore a “hypocrite”) as if they are perfect. And they love to point fingers at others who are not so conscientious about following the Law.

Paul picked up this theme in the beginning of Romans. “For all have sinned and fallen short.”

Even if we have trouble identifying where we each fall short, we must remember this instruction before pointing at others.

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