Daily Reflection
June 21st, 1999
Stephen Kline
Public Relations
Genesis 12:1-9
Matthew 7:1-5
Seventy-five-year-old Abram picks up everything he owns, gathers all of his family members and takes off for a new home.


God said "do it."

This might be an old story about a nomadic people.  But I choose to understand it as a tale about sincere trust in God.  It is a model of an appropriate response to God.

Abram seems to know God's will and he makes his own will conform.  It is not at all complicated:   Abram trusts God, and he responds accordingly.  If that means packing up everything and leaving for a new place, so be it.  The key is that God's prompting draws Abram's response.

The reading from Matthew is a powerful message about responsibility, something that grows from my response to God.

My mother used to quote the "splinter in your brother's eye" passage to me.  Her purpose was to demonstrate that all of us have faults.  What she didn't point out (and what I didn't pay attention to until recently) is that Jesus puts this notion in the form of a question:

"Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?"

An honest personal answer to that question is revealing.

It is hard to admit that I make mistakes, that I drop the ball, that there are times I don't live up to the standards I would impose on others.  In fact, it is downright painful sometimes to turn the cold spotlight of objectivity on my own behavior.  If I do that, I learn the difficult truth that I am responsible for most of my problems.  That can be uncomfortable.

It seems far easier to blame or to criticize others.  It is easier to see the splinter in my brother's eye.  It is easier to cover up my own shortcomings with blaming others, or to conceal my own shame with blustery anger.

Jesus tells me in this passage to avoid judging others because I will be judged by the same measure.   When I pass judgment on another I am arrogant in the extreme -- assuming that I know the other's motives, that I am familiar with the landscape of his or her heart.

But I am not that wise.  I do not live in another's heart.  I can only know, and judge, my own heart.  God alone knows all hearts.  God alone is qualified to judge.

Do I avoid judging others simply to ensure that I won't be judged?  I don't think so.  I think there is more to it.  I think it has to do with having reverence and respect for God and his world.

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