An old man poked his head up over the fence on a Saturday morning to observe his neighbor’s yard. “What kind of man,” he thought to himself, “lets his yard get so filthy?” He observed toy trucks and baseball gloves and the grass was taller than it should have been; it would come up to someone’s ankles if that person were to step out into it! “I can’t believe anyone would be so lazy!” he exclaimed under his breath.
Since it shouldn’t be this way, the man decided to fix the problem himself, “What right do I have to complain if I’m not going to fix the problem!” He took bags over to his neighbor’s yard and began gathering up all of the debris and even mowed the lawn for him. “There, now everything is right,” came the scraggily voice. He went to his neighbor’s door and began to knock.
Inside, there was a younger man, still laying in bed. “Knock, knock, knock,” the noise of the wooden front door blistered through the house and the younger man jolted to his feet. Stumbling to the door, he opened it to see the face of the angry old man and the freshly cut grass behind him. “Can I help you?” he asked
For twenty minutes, the old man chewed into him for being so lazy. “This is God’s green earth,” he yelled, “We need to take care of it! What is your excuse?”
The younger man looked out into the yard, “Where are all my children’s toys?”
“I picked that litter up for you!” replied the old man, “and you didn’t answer my question!”
“It’s just been a busy week,” he defended. Normally he would thank anyone who mowed his grass for him but this man was just plain insulting. Why was he complaining like this about something so small?
“That’s not a good answer,” the old man replied, “I expect more out of you!”
As the old man walked back around the privacy fence between the two yards, the younger man walked back into his house rubbing his head.
“Daddy!” one of his children came in, “Why are you up so early? I thought you had to work last night…”
“I did, buddy, he responded; and we are going to go help at the soup kitchen for lunch. There are a lot of people in need and we get to serve them because God has given us so much.”
When it was time to leave, they did. When they passed the old man’s house, they saw him through an open window complaining once again to his wife; but his yard was clean.
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:1-6 HCSB).
The truth of the matter is: every single person believes that things should be a certain way. Another truth is, we don’t really know why some things are not the way we think they should be. Take the old man in the story above. He saw a dirty yard and mistook that for the laziness of another man. We know that this man worked nights and gave his time to serve the hungry. When we see that things are not the way we think they should be, let us try to understand why they are the way they are before taking action and insulting someone unnecessarily. After all, this is what it means to love people. While in our minds we may be standing for what we think is right, it actually becomes a form of hatred because we have not tried to understand. For those who are on the receiving end of such hatred, let us try and understand why that hatred exists instead of perpetuating some sort of unnecessary quarrel. If any conflict can be ended by an apology, simply apologize. If the hatred needs to be addressed, wait until that person has had time to cool off before talking with them reasonably.
For those who make a habit out of constantly criticizing others. there may be a place for criticism in this fallen world. When it is made a habit, though, the critique is not taken seriously. We become real life boys who have cried wolf too many times. It may be that your constant criticizing and condemning is keeping you from noticing a hatred that exists in your own spirit. Perhaps it is time to address your own plank rather than your brother’s speck. If Christ who is perfect chose to love us, how can we choose not to genuinely love each other?