Earlier this year I wrote something huge. I wrote down a list of 25 planks I have stuck in my eye. (Matthew 7:3-5). I wrote down my planks and then promptly hid them in a file on my computer vowing to never show anyone. Well, “the time has come” as Effie Trinket says. God is nudging me to confess my 25 planks to the world. So here is my list exactly as I wrote it a couple months ago, yet ever-pertinent to my life. This week: planks 11 through 15.
11. Stop Condescending.
2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Condescending is one of those terms that probably describes many of my conversations more often than I would like. Patronizing, making someone feel less valuable, is terrible. Jesus was divine, was of God, and was one of the Trinity. Jesus had the ULTIMATE ability to patronize because we all are truly less than Him. He taught. He explained. He reasoned. He sometimes got frustrated at people trying to trick him (Matthew 22:18-21). He led. If any one person who has lived on this planet has ever been truly better than another human being, it was Jesus. Jesus had every right to condescend, to patronize, to make fun, if He wanted to. But patronizing and condescending didn’t jive with His message of love. Sure, He had to call some people out sometimes; but, His actions never profited from the detriment of another human. Should I laugh, or make belittling comments when others fail or mess up? No. Should I act as if I am better than someone else? No. Am I better than anyone else on this planet? Absolutely not. What should I do? I should encourage, affirm, and inspire.
Today, try to recognize and remove condescension.
12. Stop Overlooking.
3 “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? 4 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? 5 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.
41 “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? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Sometimes I see the plank in my own eye, but other times I focus so intently on the speck in my brother’s eye that I forget I am a broken person too. While being open and admitting our sins to one another is good practice, sometimes it takes a little while for people to become comfortable enough to openly admit their sins. A surefire thing to hinder open admission of sins? Calling a brother out on a sin they are struggling to admit, while you clearly just finished talking in the lobby about them and their sin to another churchgoer. Plank. Sawdust. Situation.
God wants us to love. Today, don’t overlook the plank(s) in your own eye. Familiarize yourself with your planks and recognize their existence. Planks will be much easier to remove once I admit they exist.
13. Stop Hoarding.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Take one trip to any third world country and you will quickly see how sickening American prosperity is. Thirty pairs of shoes could provide shoes for thirty shoeless people. Yet, I still have 30+ pairs of shoes. I don’t need everything I have in my home. Hoarding Tasaj is a quick shortcut to the dangerous destination of storing up treasures on earth. Be realistic with your possessions, Hayley. Do you really need the purchase you are making? Or does someone else truly need your purchase? Not the American, I spilled coffee on one of my white blouse, so now I need a new one definition. More like the East African I have to walk 3 miles for water everyday so I can’t go to school, or the Indian I live with my six family members in a lean-to smaller than your master bathroom definition of need. Could you leave all of your possessions behind to follow Jesus? Will you?
14. Stop Limiting.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
I limit God. I limit the Holy Spirit. I limit my ability to change the world. God says we can move mountains if only we had enough faith. God can do the impossible. We just have to believe He can. Something that strikes me as odd is how we as humans try to make sense of God and the way He works.
God is infinite, omnipotent, and the creator of the universe.
We are human.
Why would we ever begin to try to understand why He does what He does?
Why would we question the way He does things?
The habit of questioning God leads to limiting God.
I heard a great analogy on this from a preacher. When Jesus was at the wedding banquet and the host ran out of wine, His mother told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Mary knew Jesus would handle it, she just didn’t know how. And she didn’t care how. She just knew the problem would be handled. Jesus made the new wine in ceremonial cleansing basins instead of wineskins or glasses or anything else normal … not the typical way we would think to solve that problem, but it was God’s solution. John 2:1-11. Sometimes God nudges us in a direction that makes no sense to us, and since it doesn’t make sense to us, we ignore the nudge.
God doesn’t always make complete sense to us. He’s God.
Today is the day to stop limiting God. Start believing.
15. Stop Doubting.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.
I will let Jesus speak for this one: “‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.’” If only I could have faith like that. Believing in my heart is something I’m working on. I believe with my brain. I need to believe more with my heart. I’m wrestling with the fact that truly believing in my heart without fear or doubt could actually throw a mountain into the sea. I believe Jesus rose from the dead and performed countless miracles. So why do I struggle with doubting how much my God can do today? Doubt is an alleyway for the devil to creep into the fortress of Faith. Now if the only words we have to live by and guide us are those from Jesus and those in the Bible, I have to believe what Jesus says here is possible. My faith could literally throw a mountain into the sea. I need to work on that.
Today, stop doubting and throw your mountains into the sea. As Jesus Himself put it, “Have faith in God.”
Stay tuned for my planks 16 through 20. They will pop up here sometime.
All verses quoted are from the New International Version of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.