Someone came to me not long ago to apologize for a mistake. It wasn’t a particularly big mistake, as mistakes go, but the person was concerned about it, having recognized that it was symptomatic of an underlying character flaw that needed to be resolved.
I wasn’t sure what to say to help this person, so I decided to ask the Father.
I’d hoped the answer to my prayer would involve some sage advice to make everything OK, but instead, what came to me was Matt. 7:5:
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
I’ve always taken that verse to mean, in essence, “Mind your own business, and let everybody else mind theirs.” But in this context, that didn’t make any sense. I was minding my own business. This person had come to me, not the other way around.
In thinking more about that verse, I realized that Jesus wasn’t just telling his followers not to be busybodies — he was giving them some pretty specific instructions for handling error.
I’m learning that error is a lot like a schoolyard bully: It depends on fear to operate. As long as you keep getting scared and handing over your lunch money, it will keep terrorizing you. But once you find the courage to stand up to it, it can’t operate any more, because the fear that empowered it is gone, and the whole playground is safer. I think maybe that’s what removing the beam from your own eye is about: You have to stand up to error and drive it out of your own experience so you’ll have the moral authority to stare it down when you catch it picking on somebody else.
I still don’t have any brilliant advice to share concerning this particular error. But I’ve started to recognize it in my own thoughts and actions, and I’m getting better at pouncing on it when it surfaces … which puts me at least a step or two closer to sending it the way of Scut Farkas. 🙂