Noah sat on my lap during family devotion time. When it came time to pray, he folded his hands piously and closed one eye. He kept the other eye open in order to make sure his brother was behaving properly. As soon as we said, “Amen” Noah pulled at my sleeve and said, “Mom! Mark wasn’t closing his eyes for the prayer!”
Lately this has been my greatest parenting challenge. How can I make my children understand that it’s not their job to correct each other? How can I make them aware of the double standard that exists when they hold others accountable to a standard they themselves can’t (or won’t) meet? Jesus understood this part of our human nature and cautioned us against it when He said, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41-42)
Truth be told, I do the same thing. We all do. It’s the nature of having a sinful heart to defend bad behavior by pointing out other bad behavior. It’s something of a consolation to say, At least I’m not the only one, as if the existence of someone else’s sin absolves me of my own. The problem that comes with such thinking is that after a time I lose any feeling of urgency about repenting of my sin before God. Instead, I’m focused on the problems and sins of others.
Take the upcoming presidential election, for example. If we could just find a moral, Christian president to lead our nation, things would be better. If we could clean up Washington, D.C., and rid our country of all the corruption, greed, and selfishness that saturates politics, things would be better. Or consider what keeps you up at night…the safety of our loved ones in a violent world, the safety of an unborn child in the womb, the constant war we wage against drug, alcohol, and sex addictions, the problems of waste in our society, food safety, environmental issues, health issues, and financial worries to name just a few.
I’d like to lay blame and say I have nothing to do with the mess our world is in. I’d like to say it was someone else’s sin, or sins much worse than my own. And Satan would love to feed me these lies, to make me forget how serious my sin is. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of condemning the sin I see in this world, without first looking at the sin inside my own heart. It reminds me of the small child who closes his eyes and says, “You can’t see me!” Just because I ignore sin, or close my eyes to it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
So where’s the good news in all of this? As always, the good news is found in Jesus Christ. By facing my sin, and realizing its seriousness, I am reminded of desperately I need Christ. I am reminded that He alone understood the full weight of sin, and its consequences, and He alone paid the full price. That’s the solution to this problem. Not by ignoring our sin, but laying it all at the foot of His cross and receiving the forgiveness He won for us.
“Everybody’s wondering how the world could get this way
If God is good, and how it could be filled with so much pain
It’s not the age-old mystery we made it out to be
Yeah, there’s a problem with the world
And the problem with the world is me
So I will look no further than a mirror
That’s where the offender hides
So great is my need for a redeemer
That I cannot trust myself
No, I cannot trust my self
I dare not trust myself
So I trust in Someone else.”