Posted by: missionventureministries | May 17, 2011

FOCUS ON CHANGES YOU SHOULD MAKE – Matthew 7:3-5

Most people, when they have a problem with someone else, focus on what that person did wrong. We think the problem will get better if the other person would change. Yet we need to focus on what Jesus said: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” – Matthew 7:3-5.

Jesus said we must first focus on our own weakness and changes we need to make. This is not to say that those around us don’t have faults, bad habits and sin in their life. We all do, but despite that, God wants us to focus first on what we must do and how we can and must change.

The Bible says that we must overcome anger and not use it as an excuse to sin. Paul wrote, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” – Ephesians 4:26-27.

We need to learn to:

  • Ask forgiveness from God and from others.
  • Learn how to react to aggravations or disappointments in a Christ like and loving way.

Yes, sometimes we need to confront others’ sins. But this should be on rare occasions. If we look again at Matthew 7:3-5 we will see three elements Jesus
spoke of:

  • First, we must take the plank out of our own eye.
  • Then we can see clearly.
  • Once we see clearly, we can lovingly remove the speck from someone else’s eye.

If we try to remove the speck from the other person’s eye without first taking the plank out of our eye, we cannot see clearly and will hurt the other person. Paul made a similar point in Galatians 6:1 when he wrote, “brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”

You may feel that you have suffered grievous wounds and desire revenge; however, the Bible warns that it is God who avenges, not us (Psalm 94:1). Jesus tells us “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Matthew 5:44. We are also to forgive others (Matthew 6:12). Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:15 to: “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else”  and  Peter wrote: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” – 1 Peter 3:9.

These are directives that are at times very hard to follow, but if we love the Lord we need to pray and ask Him to change us, and He will. The results will be not only a change in us, but and inspiration to others to change too.  It is so easy to see someone else’s fault, but when it comes to seeing our own faults that is another story. We need to ask God to help us see clearly. We need to ask ourselves: Did I contribute to the problem? Have my actions helped set the stage for the current problem? As we become aware of how our emotions, actions and words affect others, we will likely discover that we contribute to problems more than we realize.

Spend some quiet time with God, asking Him to show you where you need to change. You can also ask  someone who seems upset, “Have I offended you?” Or, “You seem upset. Have I done something wrong?” If you do this, listen carefully without getting into an argument. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” – James 1:19. Seek to truly understand the person’s opinions and emotions. When you understand where the other person is coming from, look for ways to minister as you share with them. Jesus said: “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” – Matthew 20:26-28. We need to lean to emulate Christ’s humility.

We need to speak courteously and respectfully. God wants us to speak with love and courtesy, whatever the circumstances. Remember “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” – Proverbs 15:1. We also need to keep in mind to stay balanced because although it is important to focus on changing ourselves, it is possible to take this principle to unhealthy extreme. We should not blame ourselves for all the problems in any relationship.

Even though we need to concentrate on changes we need to make, we should not blame ourselves for everything wrong in our relationships. Of course there are things we all need to work on. On the other hand, we are not the only ones with problems. It is reasonable to be aware that others have faults; however, we need to learn not to concentrate on them and pray and ask God to take care of them.

Remember sometimes you need to talk about problems and the key is to do it God’s way, with courtesy and respect. Jesus said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my
disciples, if you love one another” –
John 13:34-35.

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