The Promise Effect: Tuesday, Week 5

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3

If there is one thing Jesus focuses on in the Sermon on the Mount, it is congruity between what we say and what we do. Jesus abhors hypocrisy, especially when we hide behind the veil of religion and spirituality. In this verse, Jesus calls us to look inward and make an honest assessment of our faults, our motivations, and our judgments. This verse reminds the listener that there is usually interior work to be done before we can ever do interior work on another person.

Sadly, most of us do not want to look within ourselves to examine our own faults and prejudices. It’s much easier to point out the flaws of others than to hold the light up to our own. Craig Barnes insightfully notes that most of us prefer to “rearrange” external things than do the hard work of exploring our own souls. Next time we feel inclined to complain, let’s pause and ask if our complaint is really just diverting our attention from some much needed interior work.

Let’s do some of this “interior work.” Jot down five of your main complaints—about your community, your church, your country, your family, whatever. Now take each of them before the Lord and ask for help to turn the focus back on you. Where does this complaint come from? What does it say about you, your expectations, your fears, your loves, your trust? Is there something you can do to improve the situation or change your perspective? Let this be an insightful, creative, and courageous time of discovery between you and the Lord. (The Promise Effect, p. 120)

We know, Lord, that you are intimately concerned with our interior lives. Give us the courage to look inward with honesty. Protect us from our need to deflect and make excuses.

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