It should come as no surprise that God has been emphasizing the "beam in the eye" principle from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:1-5) in my life. I struggle with having a critical heart. I know exactly how everyone ought to act and behave. I also know the best way to do everything, whether it’s driving somewhere, shopping for groceries, or homeschooling. Ironically, I must not follow my advice, because I tend to think pretty poorly of myself and what I do. But since I know all the right answers (ha!), I can become very critical of other people. While there's been improvement, my inner critic still rears its ugly head more often than I'd like.
Last week I was driving to hubby’s work and a big SUV in front of me was driving under the speed limit in the left lane, which totally annoyed me. So I hopped over into the right lane behind a little Celica and then we stopped at the red light. When we took off, the Celica was even worse than the SUV. I tried (really, I did) to be patient, but driving 10mph under the speed limit is just downright wrong (IMHO). So I jumped back over into the left lane. Naturally, the SUV wasn’t going quite fast enough for me to pass the Celica. Not only that, the Celica sped up just enough so that I couldn't get back in the right lane in front of her. I look over at the woman driving, and get this – it’s a lady from my church!! Good grief! Jesus might as well have been sitting in that driver’s seat, shaking His head at my arrogance and impatience! To top it off, the speed limit dropped – by 10mph – because of a construction zone. The same construction zone that caused the left lane to merge into the right lane. So now I had to get back into the right lane (except a big black Ford pickup guy behind the Celica didn’t want to let me in!). Aaaarrrrggghhhh!!
Yes, I was listening to my good Christian music – “Sweetly Broken” by Jeremy Riddle, to be specific (one of my favorite songs). I had to turn it off, because now I just felt stupid. Stupid and convicted. Stupid, convicted, and wretched. Sheesh!
The day before that, I took my kids and two of their friends to Arby’s for lunch. When we parked, my youngest son was observant enough to notice that someone had parked their big old truck WAY over the line so that only a little Tango could possibly fit in the space in front of it. He snidely remarked how that person was so rude to have parked so far over the line. I gently told my son that the truck was pretty big, and really, those parking spaces aren’t all that long, and it’s not a big deal, since there are plenty of other parking spaces, and he really shouldn’t be so critical. Yeah, like I wasn’t already thinking what he was saying.
But even in my thought life, God is convicting me. Left to my own devices, I’d have arrogantly walked by that truck, thinking to myself what a moron that person must be. Not only that, but my thoughts would’ve continued something like this, “Honestly, if you can’t park that big old thing, then maybe you need to buy a smaller car. You have no business driving something like that.” You know, because I’m right and I know the right way to do everything. I wouldn’t have given my pride a second thought, but I’d have walked into Arby’s with a haughty spirit. If I wasn’t careful it could’ve spilled all over the girl taking my order if she didn’t do it just right (according to my book of rules, naturally).
But God said, “No, my daughter. This isn’t pleasing to Me. Please don’t think ill of another one of My children. You don’t even see the enormous tree sticking out of your own eye, so don’t even think about the tiny speck of wood in the eye of the owner of that truck. I love Him as much as I do you. I sent Jesus to die for him just as much as for you. He is every bit as important to Me as you are. I’ve forgiven you for your innumerable transgressions. I've also forgiven him.”
Yes, Lord, You are right – all the time. Not only are You always right, You always do the right thing, unlike me. Forgive me for my proud and haughty spirit. Thank You for loving me enough to humble me and show me how wretched I am. Thank you for reminding me how desperately I need You.