Meditation: Are you clear-sighted, especially in your perception of sin and the need for each of one of us to see ourselves correctly as God sees us – with our faults, weaknesses, and strengths? Jesus’ two parables about poor vision allude to the proverb: Without vision the people perish! (Proverbs 29:18) What can we learn from the illustration of a blind guide and a bad eye (the log in the eye)? A bad eye left untreated and a blind guide can cause a lot of trouble that will only end in misery and disaster for us! We can only help and teach others what we have learned and received from wise teachers and guides. And how can we help others overcome their faults if we are blinded by our own faults and misperceptions? We are all in need of a physician who can help us overcome the blind spots and failing of own sins, weaknesses, and ignorance.
Overcoming blind spots in our own lives
The Gospel of Luke was written by a disciple who was trained as a physician. Luke, with keen insight, portrays Jesus as the good physician and shepherd of souls who seeks out those who desire healing, pardon, and restoration of body, mind, and spirit. Jesus came to free us from the worst oppression possible – slavery to sin, fear, and condemnation. Like a gentle and skilful doctor, the Lord Jesus exposes the cancer of sin, evil, and oppression in our lives so we can be set free and restored to wholeness. A key step to healing and restoration requires that we first submit to the physician who can heal us. The Lord Jesus is our great Physician because he heals the whole person – soul and body, mind and heart – and restores us to abundant life both now and for the age to come in his everlasting kingdom.
Thinking the best of others
The Lord Jesus wants to heal and restore us to wholeness, not only for our own sake alone. He also wants us to be his instruments of healing, pardon, and restoration for others as well. What can hinder us from helping others draw near to Jesus the divine Physician? The Rabbis taught: “He who judges his neighbour favourably will be judged favourably by God.” How easy it is to misjudge others and how difficult it is to be impartial in giving good judgment. Our judgment of others is usually “off the mark” because we can’t see inside the other person, or we don’t have access to all the facts, or we are swayed by instinct and unreasoning reactions to people. It is easier to find fault in others than in oneself. A critical and judgmental spirit crushes rather than heals, oppresses rather than restores, repels rather than attracts. “Thinking the best of other people” is necessary if we wish to grow in love. And kindliness in judgment is nothing less that a sacred duty.
What you give to others will return to you
Jesus states a heavenly principle we can stake our lives on: what you give to others (and how you treat others) will return to you (Mark 4:24). The Lord knows our faults and he sees all, even the imperfections and sins of the heart which we cannot recognize in ourselves. Like a gentle father and a skillful doctor he patiently draws us to his seat of mercy and removes the cancer of sin which inhabits our hearts. Do you trust in God’s mercy and grace? Ask the Lord to flood your heart with his loving-kindness and mercy that you may only have room for charity, forbearance, and kindness towards your neighbour.
O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance, admits its mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice, accepts rebuke. Help us always to praise rather than to criticize, to sympathize rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy, and to think of people at their best rather than at their worst. This we ask for thy name’s sake. (Prayer of William Barclay, 20th century)
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! [Selah]
5 Blessed are the men whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! [Selah]
9 Behold our shield, O God; look upon the face of your anointed!
10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favour and honour. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in you!
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Seeing the speck in another’s eye, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
“The word hypocrite is aptly employed here (Luke 6:42, Matthew 7:5), since the denouncing of evils is best viewed as a matter only for upright persons of goodwill. When the wicked engage in it, they are like impersonators, masquerades, hiding their real selves behind a mask, while they portray another’s character through the mask. The word hypocrites in fact signifies pretenders. Hence we ought especially to avoid that meddlesome class of pretenders who under the pretence of seeking advice undertake the censure of all kinds of vices. They are often moved by hatred and malice. Rather, whenever necessity compels one to reprove or rebuke another, we ought to proceed with godly discernment and caution. First of all, let us consider whether the other fault is such as we ourselves have never had or whether it is one that we have overcome. Then, if we have never had such a fault, let us remember that we are human and could have had it. But if we have had it and are rid of it now, let us remember our common frailty, in order that mercy, not hatred, may lead us to the giving of correction and admonition. In this way, whether the admonition occasions the amendment or the worsening of the one for whose sake we are offering it (for the result cannot be foreseen), we ourselves shall be made safe through singleness of eye. But if on reflection we find that we ourselves have the same fault as the one we are about to reprove, let us neither correct nor rebuke that one. Rather, let us bemoan the fault ourselves and induce that person to a similar concern, without asking him to submit to our correction.”(excerpt from Sermon on the Mount 2.19.64)