Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
ONE OF LIFE’S GREATEST DECISIONS IS WHETHER TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO OUR OWN FAULTS OR TO THOSE OF OTHERS. It’s an undeniable fact that much of our life in this world will be spent dealing with problems. And the quality of our lives is greatly determined by this basic question: which will be our main focus from day to day, correcting our own faults or correcting those of others? Much that is important in life depends on our decision.
It doesn’t take very sharp eyesight to see that sinfulness is harmful. We are surrounded by human wreckage. The dramatic evidence of what sin can do is everywhere we look. And living in such a world, it’s quite obvious that we’re vulnerable. There is no way to live in the here and now without the likelihood of being hurt. So it’s understandable that we become preoccupied with problem-solving and error-correction. Although we can’t eliminate sin, we’d like to minimize it as much as possible. We’d like to protect ourselves to whatever extent we can.
But where is it that we’re the most vulnerable? With our answer to this question we show ourselves to be either wise or foolish. Warning His disciples that they would be persecuted, Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). It’s virtually certain that others will do us wrong from time to time. But whatever damage we may suffer at their hands, that damage does not go nearly as deep nor last nearly as long as the damage we do to ourselves by our own sins.
Given the danger of the flaws in our own character, it is amazing how casually we can ignore these while trying to help other people. We gag at the gnat of our neighbor’s sin while swallowing the camel of our own (Matthew 23:24). And the mote that we remove from our friend’s eye is as nothing compared to the beam that’s in our own (Matthew 7:3). We make ourselves nearly ridiculous bothering about “threats” that are nowhere near our most serious dangers. It would be comical if it were not so serious.
“Flee from your own faults. The flaws in others will not hurt you” (Guigo I).