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On the Narrow Way

(Matthew 7:1-5, 12-20)

Lesson 13 -- fourth quarter 2001
November 25, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Responding to failings in the life of another.

People aren't perfect. Come to think of it, people are far from perfect. And some folks' imperfections glare. To make matters even worse yet, we have to live with these folks! (Too bad we aren't perfect ourselves, otherwise we might manage all this better!) OK, we get the picture now. But how shall we respond to these folks and their failings?

With foresight. When I wanted to harvest corn from our garden, I planted corn. Care to guess why I did such a thing? Right! We reap what we sow. Gardeners who have the foresight to anticipate what they wish to harvest can easily figure out what to plant. That same principle operates in human relationships. Jesus said, "With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged" (Matthew 7:2). From this I learn that I should have the foresight to anticipate a time when I will want certain responses from others when I fail. And having that foresight, I should now sow those very responses when I face the failings of others. It helps me to remember that they are no more imperfect than I!

With consideration. I already alluded to this response. As we gaze upon others' failings, we need to consider: "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:3). Whenever we view another's shortcomings outside the context of our own failures, we become judgmental, proud, scornful, or merciless...or all those and more.

With honesty. When it comes to our responses to failings in the lives of others, the commodity of honesty must apply equally to them and to us. First, we need to be honest with ourselves; we need to acknowledge (and work at removing) the rafter in our own eye. Once we have accomplished that task (with all due delicacy and care, naturally), we are well-prepared to go to the other person. We need to be honest with them as well; we need to inform them (with all due delicacy and care, naturally) that they have a sliver in their eye. We should quickly assure them that we have hands-on, first-hand experience and knowledge in removing such hazards to vision. Denying the mote in their eye makes no more sense than denying the beam in our own. Humility does wonderful and salutary things for honesty. So try them both the next time you see a fault in another!

Detecting deception in our age.

I don't know if the devil's deception is getting "better," or if he's just receiving a freer hand as the end of the age draws nigh, or if God's people are just getting more gullible and careless. Maybe it's all three or maybe it's something else. Whatever the case, I see more and more deception, and more and more deceived.

How can we detect deceivers and their deception, especially when they look like sheep? Jesus warned us about them when He said, "Beware of false prophets" (Matthew 7:15). In His warning He also told us how to detect them. We don't have to wait for these wolves to eat us up before we catch on to their true identity!

We need to discern the fruit of their lives. If someone produces good fruit, we can rest assured that they are likewise good. Similarly, someone who is corrupt cannot produce good fruit. Would you know good fruit if you saw it?

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