Writing class, senior year, undergrad. It was over ten years ago now, and still I remember Katie’s take on a particular assignment. Our professor had told us to write with honesty about ourselves. Something like that. I remember the gist of the assignment only because of how Katie fulfilled it. We went around the room, reading what we had put together, and it was all sentiment and cheap disclosure until we got to Katie, who said things like:
I’m so selfish that sometimes I wish I could take other people’s things, so I wouldn’t have to be jealous anymore.
I look in the mirror sometimes and tell myself I’m prettier than another woman is. It gives me smug satisfaction to think like that.
I often want to lie about myself to my roommates and friends, to make them think I’m better than I am.
I looked down at my own version of the honesty assignment and was suddenly ashamed to see things like I’d love to be published someday and I’m a farm girl at heart. Hardly gut-deep. Aligned next to Katie’s version of honesty, I found that my own lacked an important kind of bravery and candor. It made me wonder: Just how honest am I, when it comes to me?
If you don’t want to feel badly about your behavior, then you’ll probably want to avoid reading Matthew 7. This passage is an exercise in conviction if ever there was one. In it, we find Jesus teaching on several subjects, covered in a handful of verses each. But a handful of verses from the mouth of the Lord Jesus is all it takes to dig gut-deep.
Subject #1: Logs and Specks
Why do you see 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,’ when there is the log in your own eye? (verses 3-4)
Subject #2: (We’ll get back to this one.)
Subject #3: (You’ve heard this one)
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (verse 12)
Subject #4: Fruit on a Tree
“Beware of false prophets…every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.” (from verses 15 and 17)
Subject #5: Sorry, Nope
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (verses 22-23)
Subject #6: Then Your House Falls
“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (verses 26-27)
1 – The ugly truth about me is that I judge people all the time. I like it. It’s comforting to view other people in light of their failures and flaws, while viewing myself in light of strengths and success. It makes me feel deserving of good things and entitled to what I want.
2 – Again, we’ll get to 2 later.
3 – I expect far more from others than I’m willing to give myself. An easy example is that I think other people should do the kind of relationship-work that I’m almost never willing enough to do. I’m convinced my friends should check in on me, plan events, respond promptly; but I want to have the freedom to let things lapse, to plan nothing, to take forever. My life is complicated; don’t I deserve special allowances?
4 – I’m easily fooled by the vacant messages around me. Fashion, fitness, cash, “successful” parenting, career achievements, creative home decorating prowess—every day, I buy into the idea that having these things will make me Somebody.
5 – Plenty of the “Christian” things I do happen by rote, simply because I’m used to doing them. They’re pattern more than they are passion. Sometimes they’re pattern devoid of passion. Rather than being grieved by the lack of true lordship in this, I tend to let myself off the hook.
6 – I know it’s foolish to disobey God. Sometimes I do it anyway.
Subject #2: “Ask, Seek, Knock.”
“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (verses 9-11, ESV)
2 – Thankfully, the honest truth about me doesn’t end with me. My heart is evil and I am evil, yet God is good. He is good enough to make up for all that is me. This God does not give me what I deserve; instead, he gives me more than I could ever begin to request. This God lets puny little me ask him for things, seek his face, and knock until the best of doors are opened.
They swing wide to reveal my redeemer on a cross, my death defeated, my glory bought when my debts were paid in full. Good news: Christ’s blood is honest-to-goodness for me!
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
This post originally appeared on PickYourPortion.com.