A Prayer for Dealing with My Plank-Filled Eye

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     Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matt. 7:1-5

     Dear Lord Jesus, when I rubbed my irritated eyes this morning, I soon realized it was not a speck of dust but a rough-hewn board stuck there. Just because I don’t throw things or scream and yell doesn’t mean I’m not a critical person. Condescending coolness is just a synonym for clanging cymbals (1 Cor. 13:1). Have mercy on me, Jesus. You are so forbearing, kind, and gracious. Have mercy on me, the self-righteous sinner.

     My self-righteousness usually shows up not in trying to merit more of your love, but in withholding your love from others. The dark irony is that the sins that offend me most in others are the very sins most pronounced in my own life—a lack of mercy, preoccupation with oneself, a critical spirit . . . I wish those were the only ways I don’t love well.

     Lord Jesus, as cardiologist and ophthalmologist, bring your grace and truth to bear in my heart and my eyes. I want to love as you love and see as you see. I don’t want people to feel pressure to change when I enter the room, nor do I want them to feel my indifference and disengagement. Teach me and lead me in the third way—the way of the gospel.

     Since you do call us to help one another with our “specks of sawdust,” help me be a first responder to the life-giving rebukes of friends; a humble recipient of the feedback and reproof of those who long for my freedom; and someone who anticipates, welcomes, and acts on the daily, evenly hourly call to repentance. So very Amen I pray, in your kind and powerful name.

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