I was struck this morning with a reminder. I’m responsible for me. That is not to say that I write off my spouse, kids, friends, family, members of our congregation, or the passing acquaintance God brings into my path. No. There are enough “one another” passages in the Bible to prove that we are vitally connected to and reliant upon each other. What it means is FIRST I am accountable for myself. My heart. My ways. My choices. That is what I’ll answer for first. There is a quietness in this realization.
“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” 1 Thess 4:11
What this has to do with is those who have the telephone pole in their own eye (remember that parable), and are preoccupied with the speck of dust in someone else’s. Do you know how hard it is to actually touch someone else when you have a telephone pole in the way…much less do anything about that rogue dust speck? Pointless to try…that is, before you remove your own lumber. Mind your own business…first.
Paul also speaks of running a race. Keeping one’s eyes on the goal ahead. What happens when you turn your head around while running full speed? You trip. You get off course. You run into others. You crash and burn.
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Phil. 2:11
Work out YOUR salvation. Allow the love-joy-peace-longsuffering-gentleness-goodness-faith-meekness-patience flavoring of the Spirit infuse every work. Don’t compare. Don’t strive. Simply obey. Do the things God has put in front of you.
I’m afraid in this generation of electronic surveillance, which makes the observation of others so easy and covert…we can become distracted from paying attention to our own stuff. We’re so busy looking at what others are doing, buying, saying, wearing…we forget that we are living before Almighty God, who is also our loving Father. He’s watching to see what we will choose. He’s waiting to rejoice in that step in the right direction. He’s eager to hear the right words we choose in a hard situation. He’s longing to witness our self denial for His sake. He adores it when we look up in a hurtful circumstance instead of looking around. We’re in this arena of life, and God is the all-important spectator.
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Heb. 4:13
Today I will choose…to mind my own business. To ask for His purposes, and that I might not miss them. To claim His promises because they are always sure. To “do the next thing” that He has for ME today.
Then, when all my cumbersome wood is blocked, split and stacked (at least for now)…then I can attend to others. The effort expended, the sweat that drips, the muscles that ache in taking care of my own lumber is a very tangible reminder of how very imperfect I am. That is so helpful when removing dust specks.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.” Ps. 51:10-13