“Thou art the man”

by Steven Chan
29 June 2008

We are prone to be critical of others. Some look at the full-time preachers and comment that they are not doing a good enough job. Others look at the children of others and observe that the children are not well behaved. Some look at the various leaders who are put in charge of the various activities of the congregation, and comment that they are not performing as they should. Husbands complain that their wives have failed to hold up their end of the marriage relationship. Children complain about the short-comings of their parents. Many Malaysians are complaining about the high costs of living prevailing today and blame them on the government of the day for failing to do what they perceived ought to have been done. By and large we are quite critical of others.

No wonder Jesus taught very early in His ministry as recorded in Matt 7:1-5 as follows:- “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

We are often blind to our own shortcomings. That was why Jesus counselled thus: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye”. But many are not aware of the beam that is in their own eyes. We think that we are almost perfect! That’s why we easily lose our temper when we see others falling short or failing to do what is expected of them. We become impatient with others when they appear to fail to deliver what is expected of them. Perhaps we should have “eye checks” or “I checks” regularly to ensure that there are no beams in our eyes.

In James 1:23, 24, the bible says, “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. ”

Even though we may have “eye checks”, the Bible says that there is also the possibility that we very quickly forget ‘what manner of man’ we are! When it comes to our own shortcomings, we tend to have little remembrance.

However, the most dangerous part is when we think that our sins are hidden and no one knows about them and we fail to acknowledge our own sins and failures. In 2 Sam 12, we read the account of the prophet Nathan being sent to King David to point out to the king his sin for having orchestrated the death of Uriah the Hittite so that he can have his wife. King David thought that no one knew of what he had done. But he forgot that God sees the hearts of men (Acts 15:8; Heb 4:13).

It is also interesting to note that King David was very upset with perhaps righteous indignation of what the rich man had done to the poor man. The Bible recorded thus in 2 Sam 12:5,6: “And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:  And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Kind David was quick in dishing out the punishment to the rich man who had committed the offence – but little did he realize that he was passing sentence on himself – until Nathan said to him, “thou art the man!” That story should warn us against being overly zealous in setting others straight and not being aware that we could well be the ones who may be just as guilty! “Judge not that he be not judged” is still good advice!