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Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Today’s Reading | Matthew 7:1–5
“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 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, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is 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.” (NRSV)
Those things of which we are critical in others are likely the same traits in ourselves that we do not acknowledge or accept. For example, when I feel negatively towards another because she monopolizes the conversation, I probably am critical of myself for my own yearning to have more attention. But I may not realize it or may not see my own temptation to do the same. Jesus encourages us to look first at ourselves and explore our own limitations before focusing on and judging the limitations of others.
Henri Nouwen wrote, “Once we are free from judging, we will be also free for mercy.” He also wrote in With Open Hands that compassion shows us that our neighbors are people who share our humanity with us. He wrote about our relationship with our neighbor, “There is nothing in me that he would find strange, and there is nothing in him that I would not recognize. In my heart I know his yearning for love, and down to my entrails I can feel his cruelty. In his eyes, I see my plea for forgiveness, and in his hardened frown, I see my refusal. When he murders, I know that I too could have done that, and when he gives birth, I know that I am capable of that as well.”
To put ourselves in another’s shoes, to imagine the factors that result in another acting as they do, will help us not only be more empathetic, but also more conscious that we carry the same weaknesses, limitations, and temptations.
Gracious God, whenever I criticize another, stop me to examine what in myself I do not accept or like. Help me claim your loving acceptance and forgiveness, that I may extend the same to others. Amen.
Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission
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