Get the log out of your eye
Matthew 7:1-5

I know many of you here have some issues with your eyesight, some wear glasses, some contact lenses, others have or have had cataracts and still others have had this new fangled laser surgery on their eyes to enable them to get rid of their glasses.  If you are wearing glasses at the moment, try taking them off for a moment or two, does it help or hinder your ability to see.  What about if you gave your glasses either to someone who doesn’t need to wear them or just swapped them with someone who has a different prescription, it makes life hard doesn’t it?  It blurs your vision.

Our sin blurs our vision of who we are and what we do too. Jesus didn’t use glasses as a metaphor, but he did use something more appropriate to the day, a log in the eye.  Here Jesus is asking the question, “How come you can see the speck in your neighbour’s eye when you don’t even notice the log in your own eye.”  This is really about casting judgment on other people, it fits in with “let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.”

That why “Get the log out of your eye” is next on the list in Biblical reconciliation.  In order to begin the reconciliation process, both with God and our neighbours we need to clear the thing that may be blurring our vision, our own sin, the log in our eye, the glasses that aren’t meant for us.

This begins with repentance, which is a change of heart, a change in direction from where we were headed, a turning from ourselves to God.  I mentioned last week the way the father came to greet his son in the parable of the prodigal son.  What we are talking about this week is where the son came to his senses.  He realised that even his Father’s hired hands would be eating and living better than he was.  If he was to go back to his Father, explain that he was unworthy and beg to be treated like a hired hand, then he may live a little better.

If we want to live a little better we can learn from this parable, we too can return to our Father in heaven, plead our unworthiness and beg to be given even just a little.  God has promised to respond, just as the Father in the parable did by not just forgiving but restoring the son to his place in the family.

True repentance is about coming to the one that you have sinned against and admitting where you have fallen short and making amends with them.  This is difficult, it requires faith.  It also requires admitting to firstly ourselves, then to God and our neighbour that we are sinful, that we have done wrong by them and ourselves.  If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 

By my reckoning saying that we haven’t sinned is like having a huge log in our eye and not seeing it for what it is -sin.  It quite simply is not possible to be completely without sin, only Jesus who was truly human and truly God was without sin.

On the other hand, when we confess that we have sinned we confess to ourselves and others the faith that we have in God, and his Son and our Saviour Jesus.

So, I’ve just laid out the need for confessing sin, and the reality that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.  Now I’d like to give you some tools or steps to help you repent, see your sin, remove the log from your eye and confess to yourself, your neighbour and to God and hear and receive forgiveness.

Ambassadors of Reconciliation give Seven A’s of confession to help you get the log out of your eye, before you attempt to see clearly enough to help your neighbour with the speck in their own.

Address everyone involved, if you miss anyone then the conflict still potentially exists, seek out those who may have been affected by your sin, prayerfully consider the situation and then seek out and address their needs and hurts in order to be aware of points that need repentance, confession and forgiveness.

Avoid excuses, if but and maybe don’t help sort things out, they merely smear grease over the lens of your glasses, making it difficult to see clearly and truly repent.  They hinder your progress in changing the direction of circumstances in your life.

Admit specifically the sins that you have committed, one way of testing this is to work your way through the ten commandments, consider where you have fallen short and name them one by one, this could potentially be a long process!  When we confess our sins in the service we are quite general, not naming things specifically in case we preclude anyone, but when we confess on an individual basis the benefits to conscience are amazing in being specific.

Acknowledge the hurt, both to yourself and to others involved.  This helps to move forward, having empathy with the other person.  Again thinking of the returning prodigal son, who tells his father that he has sinned against him and hurt him through his actions.

Accept the consequences of your sin.  Have you ever noticed that you can’t go back and change things, if we accept the consequences, bear responsibility and seek forgiveness for them then we should more readily be able to move on.

Alter your behaviour.  This too is an important step, it may not happen overnight, realise that, take the journey with God and perhaps a mentor to help keep you accountable.  Unless you seek to change your sinful ways, are you really bearing fruit as a result of the forgiveness you have received?  Changing your behaviour isn’t a condition of being forgiven, but comes as the fruit of being forgiven.

Ask for forgiveness and allow time for others to forgive you.  It is a process, but unless you ask for forgiveness the wheels don’t get set in motion, the momentum never shifts and you may forever live with the burden of your sin, that is guilt!

None of this is meant as a magical cure, this whole thing takes time.  It’s really about removing focus from ourselves and turning to God for forgiveness, guidance strength and dwelling in that for life, love and wholeness.

I’ll leave these thoughts with you to meditate on, digest and come and ask questions about too.  We have a number of members in our congregation who have done the Ambassadors of Reconciliation course who are also more than willing to talk things over with you too.

I pray that you may be able to remove any logs that may be in your eye, blurring your vision and that you may be able to walk the journey of repentance and forgiveness with Christ at the centre having already forgiven you.

Amen.