February 9, 2011

Planks, Judges, and Jesus

I remember an uncle’s wife chiming in to a conversation my mom and her sisters were having with this: “Girls, don’t you just hate when the weather is so changeable, and you’re wearing your long fur and it’s too hot, you have no place to put it, and you have to carry it? Oh, and . . .” Words dripped with patronizing venom—she knew “the girls” didn’t have furs, or any of the opulence she flaunted at every opportunity. They weren’t married to a neurosurgeon, and they didn’t “come from money.” But she did, and was quick to show off her advantages.

Years later my mom and aunts still don’t have furs, a Mercedes, or huge diamonds—but they still have each other and their families. The uncle’s wife has a divorce, kids that hate her, and a drinking problem.
My point isn’t the tired, old aphorism “what goes around comes around.” Our material wealth, mental prowess, intellectual achievement, and religious piety all mean nothing unless we have Jesus firmly established in our hearts. In the plan of salvation there’s no such thing as self-
righteousness. No room for smugness.
Jesus knew that the temptation to be haughty and prideful would be too great for us to resist. He knew we’d look down on others, and try to correct their “bad” ways, thinking we have it right. We can’t help others with the speck in their eye when we have a plank in ours (see Matt. 7:3-5 and Luke 6:41, 42). We aren’t appointed judges (see Matt. 7:1 and Luke 6:37). Maybe we can focus our energies as did Jesus: “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it” (John 12:47).
Kimberly Luste Maran is an assistant editor for youth and young adults at the Adventist Review. This article was published February 10, 2011.