How to be a better Person #20


I still drive and take others where they need to go. Some passengers keep their eyes on me and some on the outside beauty God and men have made. Those that watch me miss out on the good things that they could enjoy. I am not the best passenger. I see too many faults in other vehicle operators. Many would lose their license if I had a say. It would not be a bad thing to get the careless drivers off the road. Please, understand that I did lose a friend when I was ten and a brother when he was ten. It was not the drivers that were at fault but the victims that did not look where they were going. I have run into things and did not see it before I hit it. My mind was not on what I was doing and it blocked my vision from getting there. Believe it or not, test yourself, I do detect tiny faults in others before I become aware of the big ones I have. How often have we criticized and assaulted individuals with more responsibility than we have? Would we do better if we were in their shoes? Could we improve on them before we correct our own visual impairment?

I did have eye surgery and the new implants have removed the logs. The cataracts made me see bothersome specks or splinters. My physical condition was similar to what Jesus said about planks and specks. “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. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:3-6).

I cannot become a better person by working on improving others. I do and so do you we all do have specks in our eyes that interfere with improving us. Specks like thorns can also hurt our eyes. They keep us aware how it feels to be bothered. Paul the Apostle had eye problems and complained that he had “a thorn in the flesh put there by Satan. He begged the Lord three times to deliver him, but the Lord refused to comply with Paul’s prayers (Galatians 4:15; II Corinthians 12:7-9). He had to learn to live with his handicap. It kept him humble but it also made him sensitive about specks in others. I can identify and sympathize with people that have to live with impairments. An accident that impaired me for life at the age of 21 has unlocked my vision to a world that I was not aware of existed. I also discovered that being handicapped did not exempt me from filling my vision with planks or logs. The blockage kept me seeing all the tinny faults others had. I was like the man by the pool in Jerusalem. He had been there for 38 years and would have continued staying there had Jesus not delivered him. The man did go to the Temple where he was questioned why he was carrying his bed on a Sabbath. Jesus did introduce himself later in the Temple and said to the man: “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you. The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who made him well” (John 5:1-15). An impaired person is just as capable of being wrong as a healthy one. My specks are not a license to pull specks in others.

Planks, beams or logs are a bigger problem. Whenever we block our vision with planks, we make all the effort to reduce them to specks. We want logs to appear no more harmless than specks. It is based on the idea that sin is sin no matter how large or small it may be. It suggests that being angry can be as bad as being a killer. There are degrees of evil just as there are in good. The Apostle James did not discuss the relationship between good and evil but the laws that were in The Ten Commandments. Any violation of any one of these articles bore the same consequences (James 2:8-12). For instance, the sin against the Holy Spirit is a big plank and unforgivable; the sin against Jesus is but a speck in comparison and forgivable (Matthew 12:32). The plank is a plank and the speck a speck. The fact is we have more of those logs than we want to admit and that is the reason why we keep on picking on splinters.

It is very difficult to live with a plank or impaired ability or vision. It is like living as a handicapped person that no longer can do what he did before his accident. I know first hand how frustrated I am at times when I can no longer do what once was easy. It is like a monkey on my back that keeps me from shaking it off. I have tried to free myself for 61 years and most likely death shall liberate me. In a sense, my plank has been a blessing in disguise. It hinders me from seeing the big mistakes we humans make. I see mostly specks that can be corrected and they are forgivable. However, it should not be my task to offer myself as one that can remove specks. Especially, the treatment of moral specks should be left to a more proficient surgeon. I have extracted some splinters and caused more harm than good. I am too partial and judgmental for the job. That is I am leaving the surgical work to the Lord (Matthew 7:1-2; Romans 2:1-4). It is difficult to accept the fact that not all splinters are bad. We need some of them to remind us of our own faults and shortcomings. In a way, I am like a field. Due to my carelessness and indifference, I allowed thorns to invade me, like bad habits or drugs. To pull all thorns at once can be fatal. I recall a case where a minister (not I) told the person to quit smoking. She had to resume her dependency on nicotine and wean herself off slowly. It is, after all, a job for the Lord to do what is best for us (Matthew 13:13-30). Without irritation and some pain, we would not see ourselves in need of becoming a better person. At least that has been and still is the case for me.