A couple of weeks ago I was sitting next to a corner on the Saint Cergue road watching other motorcyclists tackling a particularly challenging corner. Mentally I was saying to myself things like “they approached too fast, braked too late, they didn’t hit the apex, that road position will make you go wide” The truth is, having been off motorbikes for a few years, those riders tackled that corner a lot better than I currently could.
This tendency we have to focus on other people’s faults and failings whilst largely turning a blind eye to our own was the issue that lay behind one of Jesus best known and most humorous sayings.
3 ‘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? 4 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? Matthew 7
Skye Jethani describes what Jesus is talking about this sort of mini parable as our tendency to be more self-righteous than self-aware. In other words, we notice and pay attention to other people’s sin more than our own.
I don’t think Jesus is ruling out constructive criticism here. What he is talking about is the habit that it is so easy to fall into of always seeing other people’s faults whilst being wilfully blind to our own. Jesus is reminding us that self Righteousness is spiritual blindness.
Let’s be honest, self-righteousness comes easy, self awareness, now that’s hard and at times painful work. It’s always easier to focus on other people’s faults than honestly face up to our own.
So, what sort of response is Jesus looking for?
I think John Stott hits the right note when he describes Jesus point as being that
I am trying to become “plank aware” or more accurately self-aware. Every time I think someone else is doing something wrong, I am consciously trying to be honest with myself about whether there is a bigger negative issue I need to deal with in my own life.
How about you? What are you doing to be more self-aware?