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Why Don’t People See the Dumb Things They Are Doing?

Ed, my neighbor next door, likes to make fun of my passion for gardening and painting the outside of my house. In the middle of April, when knee-high snow still covered my garden, Ed yelled across the fence, “You better start painting your house, since you won’t get in your garden until the end June this year.”

“It’s on my to-do list,” I told him as I stopped on my way to the garbage can in the alley. “We are going to be away in May, so I’m giving you first chance at working my garden and planting the early lettuce, spinach, radishes, and peas for me. This summer, I want to paint the bottom part of my house, but I’ll let you help,” I said.

“You know I don’t garden and I spill too much paint, so count me out on both jobs,” Ed announced. “May is the wrong time to go on a trip. Why, the temperature here could be above freezing. Staying home and planting your garden is the sane thing to do,” Ed continued.

When Ed heard that we were off for a week in May to China, he was downright critical. “You’re not Chinese. You don’t speak the language. Why would you spend money to go to a place half way around the world and not even be able to talk to anyone there? It has to be a waste of time,” Ed snapped.

“You could be right,” I answered. This reply always causes Ed to leave in a huff muttering that of course he is right but I keep on doing my own dumb things.

It is a sad truth that we cannot discern our own errors until they pinch us. Our faults are out of our view. Others see the food on our face, but we don’t. In the Bible, it says, “We all stumble in many ways.” Yet we may often believe what we do and think is right, even perfect. The mistakes of others are very obvious to us, but not our own.

Writer Kelly Oxford has a title, “Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar.” The Bible makes it clear that everything is perfect if we are talking about God, but nothing else. It is not a matter of what I think or Ed thinks or what other people think, it is the truth of what God calls us to be and do.

Jonah, in the Bible, was told to go to Nineveh with a message, as the people there needed to repent. Jonah ran away and set off in the opposite direction, because he didn’t want to do as God asked him. Jonah had his reasons for ignoring God. He hated the people of Nineveh as long-time enemies of his own people. God knew that hatred was Jonah’s problem. Jonah feared that if he called the people of Nineveh to repentance, they would repent and God would forgive and spare them. Jonah didn’t want them spared, but destroyed. God called Jonah, so He could deal with the people of Nineveh and the hate inside Jonah. We may focus on what is wrong with others, but God focuses on what is wrong with us.

 

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Raymond Maher
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