March 1st, 2013: The Fifteenth Day of Lent

March 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

~Matthew 7.5~

“Hypocrite!” Christ often uses this strong word when referring to the Pharisees, scribes, and other spiritual elite of the day. We’ve already seen it several times in the Sermon on the Mount – ch. 6.2, 5, and 15. Christ uses the word to describe people whose outward actions are aimed at attracting positive attention, while their inner motives and attitudes need help. Usually, Christ uses this word to call out the spiritual leaders – but here, he uses it to call out his disciples.

Jesus is saying that this kind of ignorant judgment isn’t limited to a group of Pharisees and other religious leaders. Anyone can fall into this trap – and we all do, sooner or later. Christ uses this word to underscore the seriousness of the situation. There are people who intentionally draw a crowd when giving to the poor, people whose prayer times are shows on street corners, people who make a big deal about fasting in front of others, and people who ignore their own faults in order to judge the faults of others.

Hypocrites, all of them – and, at some point, all of us.

As we’ve noted before, we go back to the first Beatitude to find the antidote for hypocrisy: “God blesses those who are poor and recognize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matt. 5.3, NLT) Let’s take note: The Kingdom of Heaven does not necessarily belong to those who make big donations, who lead public prayer sessions, who undertake rigorous fasting, or who constantly challenge those around them. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who know their own spiritual brokenness and weakness.

Get the log out of your eye first, Christ says; then you’ll finally be able to see well enough to help out others. We’re liable to make a mess out of our helping if we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us about where we need help ourselves. We’re likely to find that we need help more than the person who’s getting on our nerves, but we just don’t want to admit it.

Lent is a great time to be on this journey. Let’s continue to confess our faults and ask God’s forgiveness and help for our sins and faults.

Lord, I confess my hypocritical, judgmental heart to you. Please continue to show me my own faults and sins, and draw my attention to them instead of the faults of others. Help me to be concerned with my own spiritual well-being in a vital way before I presume to know what’s best for others. In your grace, make me one who is able to humbly and appropriately speak into the lives of others. Amen. 

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