How to Destroy Your Church: Don?t Look in the Mirror
Mirrors are useful things. They show us when we need to comb our hair, reveal the ketchup stain just out of sight on our shirt, and help us to get the specks out of our eyes. And because of that last item, if you want to destroy your church, you should never – figuratively speaking – “look in the mirror.”
Don’t spend time examining yourself for sin. Don’t put your words, actions, attitudes, and thoughts to the test. Don’t do group evaluations to see whether the church, the leadership team, the committees, etc. are on target scripturally, or are perhaps heading off the straight and narrow down the path of sin.
Just assume that everything you do, say, think, and believe is 100% accurate, and does not require further analysis. No need for a mirror here, thank you. Every hair is in place and there are no specks in my eyes – I’m sure of it.
The fact is, that attitude tends to spawn a second attitude … a tendency to point out specks in other people’s eyes. You remember Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:3-5?
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank 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.”
You can see the progression: sin (the speck in my eye) covered by pride (the conviction that I could not possibly be wrong) leads to hypocrisy (telling other people what’s wrong with them, while ignoring what’s wrong with me). The final result? Instead of helping others, you alienate them.
Hypocrisy can be a very subtle sin, because the hypocrite may truly believe he or she is trying to help another person. And may very well have found a speck in the other person’s eye that needs removing. And may know all the right Scripture verses. But with a hypocritical attitude – an unwillingness to see the plank in his or her own eye – positive change will never result. People resist, ignore, or are offended by hypocrites. That is why hypocrisy can often be found at the root of church dissension and splits: hypocrisy polarizes people into separate camps.
The antidote? A healthy dose of examination, individually or as a group, in order to take a good look at ourselves and remove the planks out of our own eyes. Here are a few “mirrors” you can look in:
I Corinthians 13: How do you stack up to this description of love? Romans 12:9-21: Are you living out each phrase in this action-packed chapter? Galatians 5:19-26: How do you compare to the virtues listed here? How about the sins? Matthew 5:1-12: Do you live out the Beatitudes each day?
When we spend time in examination, rooting out our sin, confessing it, and repenting of it, it builds a strong sense of humility. Clothed with humility, we can indeed help take the specks out of other people’s eyes … because we admit how many planks we have to deal with ourselves. People can accept help from someone who admits their sin and weakness much more readily than they can accept help from a self-proclaimed supersaint. Humility is the antithesis of hypocrisy. Humility is the foundation of church unity.
Take a good look in the mirror. Is there a plank in your eye?
© 2008 Paula Marolewski
Paula J. Marolewski of Sink Your Roots is the author of challenging and interactive adult Bible studies for individual and group use, available at http://www.SinkYourRoots.com/. Sink Your Roots is also the home of Seedlings, a free weekly journal of “Little thoughts that grow big results.”