As I walk briskly through our small town, I admire many of the houses and yards. Most are meticulously kept and reflect their owner’s pride in their property. Certain people seem to have more of a green thumb than others; I watch for interesting ways to landscape.
In addition, I notice weeds. When I was in Lafayette, Indiana, a few weeks ago, I kept noticing yards full of dandelions. Since they seem to be banned from our neighborhood, they were particularly noticeable to me as I drove by.
Not many of the weeds I see are dandelions. I don’t know what they are, but they pop up in the sidewalk cracks or at the base of stone walls. If I see only one or two stray weeds, I sometimes pull them up myself, dropping them in the street or grass. But if I see a lot, perhaps all along the base of the stone wall, I let them go. I don’t know if the owner even has noticed that they are there. Maybe so, maybe not.
And yes, I feel a bit judgy. It wouldn’t take them long to pull those weeds! Such an eyesore!
Back at home, I was prompted to look at my own yard, my own sidewalk, my own stone wall, my own flower bed. I saw weeds that needed to be pulled, and I’m working on them, a few each day. But just as I think one area is cleared, more weeds pop up the next day or two, even when I’ve pulled them out by the root.
I compare this situation to our Christian lives. It’s so easy for us to be critical of others, when we have the same or worse problem ourselves. Just as seeing weeds in other yards prompted me to evaluate my own home surroundings, so should seeing the weaknesses of others prompt us to look at ourselves. We must constantly evaluate our own lives to extract those “weeds” that we need to deal with. And often, as with weeds, just as we think we have a sin eliminated from our lives, temptation pops up again. Again we must deal with it, with God’s help.
Jesus spoke directly to this problem: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42