That stupid plank in my eye! Just when I am getting my “high and mighty” on, it shows up. This plank totally messes me up by reminding me that I am no better than the next person. The plank is a humble reminder of my fragile and so often weak spiritual nature.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t get angry at unkind and unchristian actions and attitudes. As a pastor, I have been asked to mediate disputes between other Christians. Often in the mediations I find that hurtful and unkind things have been said by one or all of the parties involved. These are not words that reflect the nature and spirit of Christ. What angers me the most is that these hurtful words and actions are cleverly disguised to look like Christian love but tear the flesh like a ravenous wolf. This makes me angry, and appropriately so.
Anger can be right and justifiable because sin and unrighteous actions are wrong. Here is where the rubber meets the road or the plank gets in the eye. I easily go into a fight fire with fire mode. I get angry. I get forceful. I get “high and mighty.” However, I am not given permission to act as one who is superior to anyone else. There is no allowance for me to execute punishment that is more severe or less grace-filled than what I received. My actions and attitudes must reflect Christ. These actions should move towards redemption and restoration.
The plank reminds me that I am no better than the person at whom I am angry. The plank reminds me that I was forgiven, loved, and given grace even though I’ve used hateful and angry words. The plank reminds me that I have been forgiven an unforgiveable debt.
My problem is that punishment and retribution come easily for me. They are my autopilot reactions. They come as easily as breathing. I can execute them perfectly with no planning at all. Despite the ease with which I execute these things, I do not believe this is Jesus wants me to live. If I am going to carry the name of Christ, I must change my unthinking actions. I must admit my need for the Holy Spirit’s strength and empowerment.
With the Holy Spirit’s prodding, I will look at my neighbor as if it were me. And I know me, I don’t respond well to yelling and name calling.
You may ask what to do if they continue to act in ungracious, mean, and hurtful ways. I think I think that that is what it means to ask someone to leave the fellowship. I would remind them that the door for return is always open and that we are always ready and willing to forgive. So, should they decide that they have erred and ask for forgiveness, they will receive it.
Forgive me my sins as I have forgiven others. Help me to love people the way you have loved me.