Get rid of your lumber before you remove other’s splinters

Published 7:30 am Sunday, June 4, 2023

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Sometimes you read something that gives you food for thought. I read a quote attributed to Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom that’s given me a plate full to digest.        

“When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.”

Someone once said, “If the church were perfect, you could not belong” and neither could I. There are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people.

A thought-provoking article on the front of a church bulletin told of a minister who kept a special notebook on his desk at the church. On the cover of the notebook were these words, “Complaints of Members Against Other Members.”

When someone would tell the minister the faults of another person, he would say, “Here’s my complaint book. I’ll write down what you say, and you can sign it. Then when I have to take the matter up with the brethren, I will know what testimony to expect from you.”

Seeing the open notebook and pen on his desk always had its effect. “Oh, no! I couldn’t sign anything like that!” the member would respond. No one would want to put his or her complaints in writing.

The story concluded with the minister telling that he’d kept the complaint book for over 40 years, and had opened it thousands of times, but had never had occasion to write a single word in it.

His experience reminds me of a statement I’ve heard people make through the years. When you point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you. It’s been said that if you feel constrained to look for faults, use a mirror, not a telescope.

Jesus talked about “complaints” in Matthew chapter seven. He said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Then He went on to say that you and I will be judged according to the way we judge others.

If you will permit me to paraphrase, Jesus also said we see the splinter in another person’s eye and don’t see the two-by-four in our own eye. In other words, you have to get rid of your own lumber before you can see clearly enough to get the splinter out of your fellow Christian’s eye.

Should someone commit a sin that needs to be addressed, Jesus gave us guidelines in Matthew 18 beginning in verse 15. He said to go to the person privately first. If the person refuses to listen to you, then take another Christian with you and speak privately to them again. If all else fails, take the matter up with the church.

When we are tempted to complain about others, we could learn from the wise words of an elderly minister I know. Since God gave us two ears and one mouth, maybe we should only talk half as much as we listen.

The best rule of thumb is to remember – if you can’t be big, don’t belittle.

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”