Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Log

More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

Psalm 69:4,5

Prayer changes us. It is "working with God, as Dallas Willard put it, to make us more like Jesus.

The prayer above is a case in point. Here, the psalmist begins with a rush of emotion, railing against the sins of his enemies, at which point we expect a harsh imprecation: "May God judge my foes and justify me!

But in the act of praying the psalmist's heart is subverted and humbled and he becomes aware of his own "folly" and the "wrongs" he has done. Thus, he reckons with his own depravity for, in one way or another, we are always in the wrong.

Jesus said, Why do you see the speck that is in your brothers eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye. How can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye, when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brothers eye" (Luke 6:41,42). This is the path that leads to forgiveness and reconciliation.[1]

English poet Percy Shelley wrote:

I will not complain, and though chill'd is affection,
With me no corroding resentment shall live;
My bosom is calmed by the simple reflection,
That both may be wrong,and that both should forgive.


[1] One caveat: We can be incredibly astute about the shortcomings of others but have no insight into ourselves at all. That's why David's prayer must be on our lips: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me..." (Psalm 139:23,24).

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