“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?” (Luke 6:42)
Years ago, a friend said to me that he thought most people are more apt to forgive themselves of their own faults than they are to be forgiving of the same faults seen in others. I have an opinion on this but will leave it to you to decide if you think he was right. That said, Jesus seemed to have a point of view about human readiness to be critical of others and the way to respond to this correctly. Honest self-reflection is a part of the antidote.
I wasn’t thinking about this when I found myself in a casual, poolside conversation with someone who happens to be a therapist. In the course of a long discussion, they shared three questions I wrote down as soon as I could:
- What part of me is over-functioning (what do I over-rely on in response to emotional stress)?
- What is this over-functioning protecting me from?
- What are my fallback stances (behaviors; attitudes) that I depend on to feel good about myself?
I found the questions intriguing and viscerally challenging…which is why I wrote them down. I wanted to think more about it.
The next morning as I opened my prayer journal in my daily ritual, I rewrote the three questions and asked GOD to reveal to me whatever He wanted about them or anything else. In less than a minute, I began to write freely about interior things I don’t think I’ve ever put into words, either verbally or written. It was surprisingly liberating and was as if GOD was showing me things about me that He’s known all along.
Then I had a thought (or the Holy Spirit spoke to me): the answers to these questions represent “false armor” in that they are creations of the self. They are false because they are forged in human fallibility and weakness. They are false because we often use them against others (see Luke 6:42 above) or to protect ourselves from others, both of which obscures and negates the call of Jesus to unity of spirit and purpose as image bearers of GOD (John 17). A reminder of what it says in Ephesians 6:11 as the better alternative, (“Put on the whole armor of GOD…”) quickly followed (again, I had a thought or the Holy Spirit spoke to me). Now, when I compare any part of my answers to the three questions above to what it says in Ephesians 6:10-18, my stuff comes up pretty lame…and pretty human.
I didn’t expect this and didn’t go looking for it, but now that I’ve had the exchange, I don’t want to rush through the questions and why, despite my understanding of GOD’s Word, I am so often tempted to rely on these tactics that don’t work. I think processing this deserves time, thought and prayer. And who knows, I may decide to talk to someone about all of this.
Grace and Peace,
© Byron L. Hannon, 2020. All rights reserved to text content.