It was our last camping hurrah of the season, and though it was mid-October, the weather was beautifully warm and clear. A perfect weekend to be out in nature. Our camping site was excellent; the only problem was that it would take some careful maneuvering to back our small trailer onto it.
We quickly prepared ourselves for the job. My husband stationed himself on the rear right corner of the trailer, and my oldest son on the rear left, and I began that treacherous trip in reverse that would be required to maneuver the trailer onto the site.
I hadn’t gone two metres, however, when my husband began shouting something about a tree root that was on the site. It didn’t seem to matter which way I directed the trailer, he continued to direct my attention towards the offending root.
I would later learn that my son was also giving me a warning: There was a large tree directly off the front left-hand corner of the tow-vehicle. Regrettably, I didn’t notice him at all over the warnings being given to me about the root; but fortunately for us all, I did see the tree. I asked my son’s fiancée, who was still in the car with me, to station herself beside it. She did, but before I could continue the job of parking the trailer, my husband ran up to the window to make sure I had heard his warning about the tree root.
Don’t get me wrong, the root was indeed a formidable concern; but the tree was a far more immediate obstacle to be contended with, so I focused my attention away from my husband and onto my future daughter-in-law’s directions. With her excellent assistance, I was able to avoid that tree, and then I switched my attention to my husband’s warnings.
What if I had focused my attention solely on avoiding the root?
We would now have a dented front end on our tow-vehicle.
It all made me think. Jesus tells us, “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7:2-5)
We are quick to point the finger at those who do us wrong. Any time there is something amiss, we look for a cause—outside of ourselves! We have become so blinded by self-preservation and self-exoneration that we are often completely oblivious to the fact that the problem may actually stem from ourselves. Yet when we judge others, when we focus on their faults, we are blinded to the reality that we, ourselves, may have a much more serious default in our own character.
Jesus warns us against this: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.” (Matt 7:1)
Each of us also has someone who can help us with that “tree”…God’s Holy Spirit is ever there to guide us and convict us of our own faults. “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…” (John 16:8) Our problem is often that we become so distracted by the “roots”, by the defaults we see in other people, that we fail to hear the voice of God’s Spirit guiding us.
Let’s remember this the next time we’re tempted to point the finger of blame at someone else. Just for a moment, let’s shift our attention enough away from that “root” that we can hear the voice of God’s Spirit. Then we will be able to look for the more formidable problems in our own lives, and then we will be able to avoid the “tree”!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.