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Humility: When You See Your Logs, You See Most Clearly

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What would you see if you saw clearly the logs in your own eyes? How different would you be if you prayed, in humility, “Lord, please expose my logs.”

When Jesus asks you a question, it is always good for you to find the answer. One of the most critical questions you need to answer in order to be spiritually healthy is found in Matthew 7, where Jesus warns about judging the hearts and motives of others:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matthew 7:3

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Well, why do we? Why do we tend to maximize the flaws of others while minimize our own? Why do we struggle less with our own sins than with the sins of others? Or move quickly to self-justification and defensiveness? Or resist admitting failure or fault?

The temptation to judge others or condemn them creates a window into your soul to see your pride. There is an impulse in our hearts to be right, to not be criticized, to appear competent, and, therefore, to defend ourselves against all suggestions otherwise. Jesus is showing us that pride lies relatively unnoticed by us, until we feel the need to criticize another, or be defensive toward our own faults.

We are, in other words, naturally blind to what is wrong with ourselves- what Jesus calls logs, including but not limited to the various ways we’ve failed to perfectly love God and our neighbor or any and all manifestations of our pride including self-centeredness, self-protection, self-justification, self-sufficiency, and self-promotion.

I want to blog for a while about this question: What would you see if you saw clearly the logs in your own eyes? How different would you be, in other words, if you consistently prayed: Lord, please expose my logs and make me much more humble than I am now?

Ironically, when you see your logs, you see most clearly! Here is one thing you will see if your logs are evident to you (and I will detail more in future blogs): You will see the threat of complacency.

As a pastor, for more than thirty years I have peered into the smoldering ruins of wrecked lives: marriages, friendships, churches and organizations that have crashed and burned. Rarely amidst the wreckage do I find gospel-created humility – the other-centeredness we see modeled in the life of Jesus. I find people who see other’s logs but not their own. Why?

People tend to remain complacently content to be exactly who they are; they give little thought to mortifying their pride, examining their logs, or nurturing a contrite spirit. “I’m fine the way I am.”

If you rarely think about humility and seldom repent of pride, it’s likely you will stagnate as a believer, inflict pain on those close to you (if even unwittingly), and forgo enjoying the riches of the love of Jesus. For your own good Jesus is essentially asking you:

Do you know how your pride affects the way you speak, think, act and treat others?

In other words, if you were growing in humility, and striving against pride- seeing the logs in your own eyes– what would look different in your life: the way you listen, engage in conflict, spend money, think about success, disagree with your spouse, pursue intimacy with God, or sing in corporate worship? Would you be quicker to accept blame, to help the disadvantaged, to love the unlovely, to focus less on your needs, or to resist self-promotion?

Your critique of other’s sins, faults and foibles becomes an occasion to ask yourself, “am I as critical of myself as I am of others? Am I more interested in helping them or condemning them?”

We tend to inch toward humility and inch away from pride—it’s a relentless slugfest. But there’s hope for strugglers in the magnificent grace of Jesus’ gospel. To be continued….

Mike Sharrett has been in pastoral ministry for 37 years, is on the Board of Directors for the Association of Biblical Counselors and is a Pre-Conference Workshop speaker at this year’s ABC National Conference. 

Posted on February 9, 2017