Devotion for the Week...
I am a huge fan of Bonnie Hunter's scrap quilting and I love her Instagram feed. I also enjoy motivational/inspiring quotes, so I love that Bonnie recently started posting inspirational quotes each day, including this one by H. Jackson Brown Jr. : “Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.”
There were immediately two things that came to my mind. First was the simple fact that we are not perfect, which means there will always be room for improvement. As believers, our goal is to become more and more like Jesus. John wrote, "We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did" (1John 2:3-6).
Until I live as Jesus lived, there will be room for refining and improving in my life. Now, I don't know about you, but I fall far short of that standard!
The second thing that came to mind was another Bible verse. "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).
We sure do like to point out faults in other people, don't we? We don't like thinking about our own faults nearly as much, even though we all know those faults exist. We just like to think our faults are more like harmless foibles, while other peoples' faults are glaring character flaws. And yet Jesus calls us hypocrites if we ignore our own faults (the planks in our eyes) while focusing on the faults of others (the sawdust in their eyes).
The challenge is in looking ourselves square enough in the face to recognize our faults and then having the courage to do something about them. The amazing thing is, if I work on removing a certain fault from my own life, I'm then more qualified to help someone else overcome that same fault. I'm also more likely to be more compassionate and less judgmental.
Make no mistake, there are times when we are called to talk to others about the sin in their lives. Matthew 18:15 says, "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you." There's a difference, though, between confronting a person about a sin and criticizing them. Often when we criticize it's more a case of nit-picking, of finding fault with the way a person does something because it's different from the way we would do it. In that case, it's better to be more concerned with dealing with your own faults than with nit-picking about someone else's.