When Looking for Flaws, Use a Mirror, Not a Microscope
On September 7, 2020, the UK-based website, Metro.com, reported that an 80-year-old man destroyed part of his home while trying to swat a fly. The old man, who lived in the French village of Parcoul-Chenaud, was wielding one of those electric fly swatters. It’s the kind that resembles a tennis racket and is designed to burn up the critter once hitting it. Unfortunately, the senior citizen pursued the fly into the kitchen, where a leak had filled the room with natural gas. The man was evidently successful in his hunt. For as soon as his swatter incinerated the fly it also ignited the leaking gas. The explosion destroyed the kitchen and part of the man’s roof.
The man also suffered burns to his hand but was otherwise uninjured. He’s currently living in a campground, awaiting the repair of his home.
What if we lived in an environment that was like this old man’s kitchen – filled with gas and ready to explode – should we ever decide to swat a fly with an electric swatter? Well, we do live in such an environment. But it’s not natural gas that fills our world. It’s the justice of God. And it’s far more flammable than natural gas. All that’s necessary for God’s justice to ignite into fiery wrath is for us to take a “swat” at a neighbor with our criticism and condemnation.
Yes, Jesus told us that we immediately alienate ourselves from God the moment we hate our fellow human beings and refuse to forgive them (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35). Jesus said that only those who show mercy will ever find it (Matthew 5:7), but those who judge others will be judged by God with the same standard they apply to others (Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:37). Our attitude and practice toward others should be as Jesus commanded:
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. … But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27-31, 35-36).
Look at the Prodigal Son’s brother. When he condemned his younger brother and refused to forgive, didn’t he find himself on the outside, with his father asking him to come back home (Luke 15:25-32)? Didn’t Jesus warn us, “Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled” – the way the Pharisee exalted himself above the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14)? Humility before God and love to one another is always the appropriate attitude. For Jesus Himself is “gentle and humble” (Matthew 11:29) and “a slave is not above his master” (Matthew 10:24).
Therefore, when looking for flaws it’s always best to use a mirror rather than a microscope. Particularly during an election year, when accusations and criticism tend to gush from our mouths, we need to examine our own lives before we condemn another’s. We need to remove the log from our own eye before criticizing the speck of saw dust from our brother’s (Matthew 7:3-5). It’s best not to let our sparks fly when our world is filled with the volatile justice of God.
PRAYER: Lord make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. (St. Francis of Assisi)