Connecting Points

Monday, July 09, 2012

Today’s Topic: Sawdust

Today’s Text:  Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV) 1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “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? 4 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? 5 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.

What a week. It may seem like a strange way to spend the Fourth of July week, but it was very fulfilling for me to be able to help my daughter and son-in-law begin the remodeling of the entire lower level of their home. From Monday afternoon until Saturday afternoon Brad and I spent every day, including the holiday, framing in the family room, den, office, bathroom, and storage areas in their 1400 square foot basement. Then we did all the plumbing for the bathroom, followed by the electrical wiring. We are very close to having it ready for sheetrock. What a great time we had together, and it was especially rewarding to be able to see immediate results for one’s labor.

During the week, there were numerous times while cutting or nailing boards that sawdust would end up in my eye. I immediately knew it was there. My finger would instinctively rise to the task of removing it. Not once did Brad have to tell me that I had something in my eye. I’m not sure I will ever need anyone to tell me that there is something in my eye. I may need help occasionally to remove it, but the knowledge of its presence is undeniable and un-ignorable. And when I do need help, I want someone with clear vision to assist me, because I treasure my eyes.

Yesterday I preached on this passage of Scripture from the Sermon on the Mount. But in all of my preparation and study I had not thought of this point until this morning as I reviewed these words of Jesus. People who have sin in their lives know it’s there; I don’t need to tell them it’s there. I know I have sin in my life, as do you, and until we deal with it we are not able to see clearly enough to help someone else with theirs. And when we do help them, because we can see clearly through eyes that have been cleansed by Christ, we will help them from a platform of love that motivates service rather than a position of pride that generates judgment.

Let me illustrate with this story:

Pastor Jud Wilhite shares the story of a church member named Cody Huff. Before Cody became a member at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, he was sleeping in an open field next to the church. But at one time Cody was making loads of money as a famous bass pro fisherman who had even been featured on ESPN. Yet he couldn’t overcome his problem with drugs. He began a crack addiction that led him to smoke up $600,000 worth of savings, his house, his Harley, his new boat. He smoked away everything he had and ended up homeless. A man who had eaten at fine restaurants and interacted with celebrities had bottomed out and was now homeless.

But God would turn his life around—and it all started with the kindness of a church volunteer. Some people from the church’s homeless ministry were handing out sandwiches in the park where Cody slept, and they told him he could get a shower at Central Christian Church. The last place Cody wanted to go was a church, but he hadn’t bathed in so long that even other homeless men couldn’t stand his smell anymore. Cody explained what happened next:

I walked into the church, and this lady named Michelle, who knew me from the homeless ministry, said, “Good morning, Cody. How are you?” Then she looked at me, and she said, “Cody, you need a hug.” And I said, “Honey, you don’t want to touch me because I haven’t had a shower in 3 months.” If Michelle heard me, she didn’t seem to care. She walked up, and she looked in my eyes, and she gave me a big hug and told me that Jesus loved me. In that split second, I was somebody. She even remembered my name. That was the point where I knew that God was alive in this world.

Over the next several weeks, Cody’s life began to be restored. He gave his life to Christ. He started leading a Bible study in the park for other homeless people. “That was over 3 years ago,” Jud says. “Now he’s married, and he and his wife serve faithfully in our homeless ministry every weekend. He has his own business. From ashes, God has raised him up to use him as an instrument.” But his involvement in ministry all started with the warm embrace from one of the church’s greeters.

That’s what you do with sawdust – remove it from your own eyes, and trust that others are doing the same. And when they need help, shower them with love not criticism. That’s the Body of Christ at work – seeing the world through the eyes of a doctor not a judge.

Pastor John

3 thoughts on “Sawdust

  1. Hi, Pastor John. Maybe v. 6 (“Do not throw your pearls to swine…”) will be the topic of your next message! It seems that we are not to judge others before dealing with our own sin, but there is a point at which should we should “just say no” to those who reject God’s truth outright (the “dogs” and the “pigs”). We must conclude that judging (self-righteousness) and discerning (self-awareness) are two different things.


  2. Actually, Curt, I dealt with that during the sermon yesterday, that the Bible both condemns and commands judging – See John 7:24. It’s all about the hypocrisy issue.


  3. You have such a way with words, PJ! I like your last paragraph – “shower them with love…”, “seeing the world through the eyes of a doctor not a judge”. Classic! Thanks!


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