(Jesus said) "... 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 7:5b
Their city houses were only a few feet apart.
Although Ardith hadn't met her new neighbor, she already knew a lot about her. That's because their houses were situated in such a way that Ardith could look into her neighbor's house through a multitude of windows.
Yes, Ardith knew a lot about her neighbor. Ardith knew when her neighbor got up, and Ardith knew her neighbor sewed every day in the late afternoon. Ardith also knew her neighbor wasn't very clean. That fact was obvious because her neighbor's windows were so dirty the images Ardith saw were quite fuzzy.
One sunny day Ardith decided to set an example and do some housecleaning of her own. Part of those duties included washing her own windows. After the work was done, Ardith sat down by her dining room window to rest and admire her work.
To Ardith's amazement, she could distinctly see her neighbor sitting by her window, sewing. Commenting on the clarity of what she was seeing, Ardith said to herself, "Well, I'm pleased, my neighbor has finally washed her windows!"
I don't need to tell you that it was Ardith, not her neighbor, who had the dirty windows.
That's a story which is, for the most part, made up ... for the most part.
Indeed, it is more true than we would like. That's because most of us, in one area or another, could be Ardith. All of us have times when we think somebody else has dirty windows or dirty family laundry, and we jump to some pretty quick conclusions about them.
Such jumping usually is a big mistake. It's almost always a mistake when we have the very sin or shortcoming about which we judge others.
This is just one more reason why we need the Savior and one more reason why our daily prayer ought to be "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." Thankfully, because God is merciful and because Jesus has offered Himself in our stead, there is forgiveness and the opportunity to change.
God grant that we do change and look twice to see whose windows are really dirty.
From a devotion originally written for "By the Way"
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us give our neighbor the benefit of the doubt. May we always make sure there is no log in our eye while we are pointing out the speck in the eyes of others. In the Name of Jesus, our Savior, we pray it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries