Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Great Plank Removal

This past week, a friend of mine on my favorite social networking site posted something that caught my attention and really bothered me.  He was approached by a teenage kid asking for donations for a church trip.  The kid accepts the money then proceeds to lay into my friend for wearing a t-shirt of a rock band that wouldn't exactly be considered "churchy." Then he lectures my friend about listening to certain types of music and announces that he has stopped listening to non-Christian music.   I really wanted to comment on his post, but I had no idea how to respond to this.  I felt like no matter what I said, I would sound like a pious know-it-all or something like that.

Coincidentally I have been meditating on a verse for a few weeks that ties in perfectly with this little scenario.  Luke 6:41-42 talks about judging others:

41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

What I have been especially been focused on is the "plank."  I have been asking the Lord to reveal to me what planks I have in my own eyes.  I figure there are probably several in there that I can't even see.  According to Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, "plank" can be translated into the words "log, tree trunk, or telephone pole."  I find the last one to be a bit of a stretch considering there were no telephones at the time that Jesus walked the earth.  I assume Mr. Dake included that word merely to emphasize the huge size of the plank in question.  The one that makes the most sense to me is "tree trunk" and the more I think about it, the more I get it.  There is a reason Jesus used that scenario to describe the judgmental condition of mankind.  The most obvious thing that I see in this verse is that when you judge others, you are blind to your own afflictions.  What I gained from meditating on this is that I need to take a good hard look at myself and fix all the many things wrong with me before looking at others.  But then I pressed deeper and really thought about that plank, that tree trunk growing out of my eye that Jesus spoke about; and what I saw in my mind's eye was this: when you have a huge tree growing out of your eye, you not only are blind, you hurt others! If I have a huge tree growing out of my face, every where I turn I am bashing other people with it. Also, if you leave a tree alone, it will continue to grow larger and larger.  The more I focus on other people's problems and leave mine alone, my own problems will just get bigger.  And the more I try to "help" others while I refuse to get my own help, the more I will just keep bashing in the heads of those around me and keep pushing them away until I no longer have anyone who wants to get close to me.  Jesus commanded us to love others, not bash their heads in all the time.  When I let the Lord remove my afflictions, then I can lovingly help those around me with the things that are afflicting them.  

So as I meditated on this and asked the Lord to reveal my tree trunks, he very quickly showed me a huge one that was in my life and very swiftly removed it.  I knew it was there, but what I didn't know  how much it was affecting me.  It was very painful to remove this thing from my life because it involved a huge setback in my family's income, but I truly believe with all my heart that when God removes something from our lives he replaces it with huge blessings.  I can already say that He has provided everything my family needs and I know that He will continue to do so.  

I have to admit that God has really reached me with this verse that I have known since I was a kid. I have read and heard it so many times that I used to just tune it out. But it seems that the Lord has been re-teaching me a lot that I thought I already knew.   I used to be very judgmental.  Very.  Like to the point where I would read Bible verses or hear a sermon and think about all the people I knew who needed to hear THAT! But I was missing the point entirely.  Jesus speaks directly to ME and to YOU, he doesn't teach all of his lessons to give us an excuse to judge everyone else we know while we don't change a thing about ourselves.  The teenage boy who berated by friend may have felt in his heart that he should cut out certain music from his life so that God could speak to him.  He may have cut it from his life because his youth minister told him it was the only way he could go on the trip. I don't know the reason he stopped listening to certain types of music.  All I know is that he inappropriately judged my friend.  I hope and pray that this boy changes his ways and that the Lord removes the planks from his eyes so that he will stop bashing others.  I believe that the music that a person listens to is up to them. I believe that God looks at our hearts and I truly believe he would rather me listen to non Christian music because that is what I want to listen to rather than broadcasting that I listen to Christian music just to prove how great I am.  The whole point of listening to Christian music is to praise God and if a person does it with the point of showing off how great they are they are missing the point entirely.  They are praising themselves and not God.  I hope and pray that my friend who received the bashing doesn't think that all Christians just want to go out and bash anyone who doesn't have the same views as them. If you look hard enough you can find those special people who have a true relationship with the One Living God.  Christians are never going to be perfect, but there really are those who do want to love others.   Once you find people like that, never let them go!! 

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