“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “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 7:1-5
While volunteering at a thrift shop I was creating a new display on the sales floor. The upholstered furniture that I was arranging, although nice looking and sturdy, was covered with cat hair. As I was working on removing the coat of hair I was trying to imagine the house it came from and questioning how they could live with all that hair! I then quickly realized that my own house…my own couch… probably has the same amount of cat hair. I just don’t notice it as much, because I’ve become accustomed to it.
I can remember when we first got our cat; the hair drove me nuts! I noticed it on my clothes, on furniture, and on the walls above the register where she likes to curl up in the winter. Her hair ends up in the bath tub, on cupboards, in the fridge (??????), in the pages of my Bible and yes, even in food. I just remember being so aware of it initially and completely disgusted by it. Many times I just wanted the cat gone. But here we are 8 years later with Pickles still a part of the family. I wear pieces of her hair out the door even though I roller most of it off before leaving. I casually pick out a strand or two that get in our food (although I do curl up my lip as I do it…I still think that’s gross), and I blow the hair off whatever it is that I’ve picked up to use and go about my business. It just has become the norm. It’s interesting how something that use to disgust me, I have now gotten use to and live with without much thought. However, when I had the opportunity to see how another cat’s hair covered another someone’s couch…I took quick notice of it.
I can remember times in my life when I was appalled at certain sins and would not tolerate them. If I was exposed to them I was uncomfortable and wanted to remove them from my presence. However given enough time, and under the right conditions, my sensitivity to those sins decreased and I came to tolerate them. Not just tolerate, but became comfortable with them and just gave up trying to ‘roller them off’ after a while. And worse…how very quickly I find myself raising an eyebrow at the sin of another, when upon further reflection my own situation maybe just as problematic. How is it that we can judge another and overlook, or even justify our own actions? How unloving of us to be impatient of another when they make sinful choices, yet we ask for forgiveness daily for the sins we commit.
What then are we called to do when we notice the sin of another? First we look at our own lives and acknowledge and address what we find there. Then when our ‘couch’ is in order (which… if you think it is order, you are in jeopardy of falling with your very next step due to pride), we approach the other with love and understanding, because we know from where they come and how easily they got there.
” Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” Galatians 6:1-5