[Papercut Press Publishing]1999-03-12 - Watchfulness

Matthew 7:3-5 And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. NASB

"When I was a boy", said an old man, "we had a schoolmaster who had odd ways of catching the boys. One day, he called to us, 'Boys, I must have closer attention to your books. The first one of you that sees another boy idle, I want you to inform me, and I will attend to the case.' 'Ah!!' thought I to myself, 'there is Joe Simmonds, that I don't like. I'll watch him; and, if I see him look off his book, I'll tell.' It was not long before I saw Joe look off his book; and immediately I informed the master. 'Indeed!' said he. 'How do you know he was?' -- 'I saw him,' said I. 'You did! And where your eyes on your book when you saw him?' I was caught..."

Are we not like this ourselves? I wonder how many "watchful" Christians there are out there. There is something to be said for being watchful, even watchful about the teachings, practice, conduct, or emphasis, of others. But Christ has an interesting way of speaking about being watchful of others in the section of the Sermon on the Mount quoted above. He says that we should first watch ourselves before we start to worry about others.

I don't know many folks who honestly first take the log out of their eyes before they start the laser surgery on the speck in their neighbors eye. The habit of self-examination, or self-watchfulness is seemingly lost today.

But examine ourselves we must. I bet it is the experience of most that the more we examine ourselves honestly, the more cause we have to humble ourselves. The saying, "know thyself" is one to ponder and consider. There is never a man or woman who is worse off because they know or learn the worst about themselves.

Being watchful is a good thing. However, being self-righteous is nothing to crow about. In fact, Bishop J. C. Ryle says that the greatest cure for self-righteousness is self-knowledge. We need to learn to find the balance between watchfulness and unhealthy vindictiveness.

It is when we listen to every word of pastor x, or look at every action of Ms. so and so, for the sole purpose of "catching" them in some falsehood or compromise that we have certainly crossed the line from a wholesome watchfulness to a spiteful, vindictive, "gonna get you" watchfulness. And we need to do the right thing, call it sin, confess it, and resolve to turn from our unholy ways. May God give us such courage when we need it.

Soli Deo Gloria,