Removing Specks: Judgement as a Tool for Self Reflection
We live in a world where we are in constant contact with the vices of people we interact with. The natural tendency, when met with the shortcomings of others, is to correct their wrongs and then move on. It's instinctual. Something is wrong so you fix it. The problem that can arise with this mentality comes with the effectiveness of its approach. How successful are we fixing the problems of other people and how long do our solutions last?
The natural inclinations we have to fix what we see in others are based on our internal judgment and perceptions about their errors and their thought patterns. What if there were a better way to help them grow and also grow and turn ourselves?
Since we have these natural inclinations, perhaps they are telling us something about ourselves that actually needs to change. Jesus was quoted as saying the following:
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.
Matthew 7:5 ESV
In this verse, Jesus speaks to the hypocritical nature we possess whenever we are ready to cast stones at our adversaries. At face value, we easily can take this verse as a call to fix the hypocritical nature we possess and simply tell ourselves not to be hypocrites. Easy enough, right?
Maybe. If we stay with that notion for a moment, we can also extract a deeper truth. Take the first statement Jesus says: first take the log out of your eye. That would imply that there would be a lot more work to be done on the eye of the beholder to remove a log than on removing a mere speck. That would imply that the opportunities to observe specks in others would reveal opportunities to see and deal with the logs we possess. So, let's get to work!
For example, say, you were to notice a bad attitude in one of your friends. Following this train of thought, you would then realize that what you're seeing in them, you also possess. Frightening but true. After all, birds of a feather, right? You would then continue this train of thought to think of times in recent memory when you have also possessed that same attitudinal display. Usually, when this happens to me, it hits me like a ton of bricks. Through this thoughtful self-reflection, you are able to develop methods of improving your attitude but also approach your friend with mindful compassion rather than a tone of condemning judgment. One usually produces better outcomes than the other.
You also realize that your actions can speak much louder than your words. By removing your logs of imperfections, you are now able to move freer and achieve more in your life. The fruit of your removal could result in your friend seeking and wanting the secrets of your progress rather than your imposition when you haven't mastered the issue at hand yourself. This is leading by example.
If your friend constantly sees you happier and freer and doing more, the natural impulse from them will be to ask you what your secret is. Then, by all means, please tell them of the speck in their eyes that they are now willing and able to remove by themselves.
One truth that we know is that you can't help people who do not want to help themselves. It is heart-wrenching but true. You probably have countless stories of friends and family that you've tried to help but have only met your efforts with resistance and defensiveness. Why? They see your logs too. If you point a finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself. By taking this philosophy to heart and continuing to work on yourself, you then relieve yourself of the burden of trying to fix everyone and just live your best life.
The end result is gorgeous. Instead of walking around as everyone's savior, you can now live as an example of a person who is freer of their imperfections. You walk around like someone who has also had to carry their own logs and may still have specks in their own eyes but knows how to live in spite of them. And that is when you can really help others.
The next time that you have an urge to speak up. Think twice, or maybe three times. Then wisely seal your lips knowing you are a work in progress or speak with the compassion of someone who knows exactly what the struggle is to be human. Then, artfully remove the speck from their eyes after you have taken care of your log.
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