Today I engaged in one of my all-time favorite activities. I went to Goodwill. I love digging through racks that are over-stuffed with cast offs. I adore searching for that amazing treasure that is sure to be hidden, just waiting for the person who is willing to weed through all the junk. In fact, I am such a dork about thrift shopping that I just wait for someone to compliment what I’m wearing so I can say the actual Goodwill slogan: “I got it at Goodwill.”
When I’m shopping like that, no kids, no distractions, just me and the rows and rows of faded jeans and holey shirts, I get focused. I mean, really focused. I hardly even notice that screaming children are everywhere or that good-natured workers are singing to the radio. In those moments, it is just me and the challenge of finding some incredible deal buried underneath the worn.
But today, my usually peaceful experience was interrupted by a man a few rows over. He had been wandering around the store with a child in his cart, but honestly I had hardly noticed him before the yelling started.
He stood at the end of his row, yelling to a woman who was presumably his wife. He was hollering about how rude people are. He shouted that no one has any manners anymore. He proceeded to loudly tell her about how many people had been blocking the rows, as if they were afraid he was going to swoop in and steal their bargains. Then he specifically pointed out a teenager who had offended him, all the while yelling across the store, disturbing an otherwise harmonious environment to rudely exclaim just how rude people are. All I could think was, Oh, the irony.
And, wouldn’t you know it, my shopping delight was further interrupted when the thought suddenly hit me right between my formerly focused eyes that I am exactly like the rude screamer. How, you ask? If only you knew how often I have criticized other people for things that I am doing myself. I seem to love to point out sins of others that I personally struggle with. I’m not sure why we have the tendency to do that. I’ve found that the sins we are least understanding about are the ones we are dealing with on a regular basis. Did you know that I have actually gossiped about how much people gossip? Have you heard that I have a tendency to meanly let Chad know about it if I feel he has been mean to me? Do you realize that I can discuss how horrible it is that Christian people would watch a certain movie RIGHT AFTER I have watched some trashy television show?
Oh, yes. I am the epitome of the rude screamer.
I guess that’s why Jesus advised us to be careful about such things:
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? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
If the logs He is talking about are sins that you try to ignore, if they are pet inconsistencies and the things that plague your spirit, then sometimes I feel like I have a forest or two in my eye. No wonder I have a hard time seeing my fellow Christians clearly! Yet, I blindly try to diagnose everyone else’s sin problems. Meanwhile, I look and sound and am about as effective as the man in Goodwill, being exactly what I hate. Rude as rude can be. Blindly pointing out the problems with other people, with a sense of superiority, even while everyone can see that I have the exact. same. problems.
I think that’s where love comes in. Love is the answer. It is what can help me overlook the flaws in others. It is what helps other people overlook the flaws in me. God has gifted us with the ability to love as He loves. Not only that, but He commanded us to do it.
My criticism of other Christians is truly ironic. It would be laughable if it weren’t so destructive. I pray that God’s love will spill out of me faster and louder than any negative word. I am determined to continue to try and clear out some of the dense and dark forests in my eye, because I want to see clearly, not so I can criticize more accurately or with a greater sense of superiority, but so that I can be more effectively used by God to love others.
Just so you know, the rude screamer settled down and left the store without incident. Isn’t it incredible, though, how God used the man, even in his rudeness, to show me more of Himself? What a lesson from the Lord. I got it at Goodwill.