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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 6:39–49

“He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.” (NRSV)

Reflection
One verse of Jesus’ powerful teachings has come back to me time and again over the years. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

On difficult days, my preoccupation with the faults of others in word or deed or even in their very manner of being provokes me. Did a good friend really say what he did? How could a beloved family member act so strangely? My assumption seems to be that I, of course, could fix these problems if I were given the chance. Just let me at those troublesome specks!

Instead, Jesus told his followers to look closer to home. We need to start with our own partial perspective. What stands in the way of caring more fully for friends, family, neighbors, and for our loving God? What is it that obstructs our outlook and impairs our response?

A challenge for me is to redirect my sight toward my own thoughts and actions, to consider my own manner of being. Is my negativity wearing on the relationships I so value? Does my critical perspective keep me from glimpsing the image of God in the neighbors I encounter each day?

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote about the importance of prophetic self-criticism. Before we turn our attention to the world around us, let us prayerfully and prophetically examine our own reflections and behavior. For only then will we “see clearly.”

Prayer
Wise, loving God, I give you heartfelt thanks for the teachings of Jesus that continue to address and transform our lives. Redirect our thoughts, we pray, from speculation about others to prophetic self-criticism as followers of the Lord of life. Amen.

Written by Jeff Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults


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