Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Eat off your own plate-the paradox of helping others with sin.

Matthew 7 1-2

I work with a population of addicts.  One of the things I tell them often is to “Eat off your own plate” as they tend to get focused on what is going on with other people.  It’s easier to look at what other people are doing, or getting, than it is to deal with the things going on in their own life.  All of this brings me back to our reading in Matthew. 

I think it’s pretty safe to say we see more clearly the problems and issues of other people than we do our own. This is what I think Jesus was trying to tell us very directly in Matthew 7.  Two-thousand years later and thousands of books and sermons later about this, and we still don’t get that we need to eat off our own plate first.  Why?  Just as I said at the beginning, it’s easier. 

I am sure there is a supernatural judgment that happens when we do this thing where we badger and judge other people while we have a plank in our eye, but there is also a very in the now thing too.  This is what I want to write about now since I am not even remotely qualified to talk about the first. 

What happens when we are running around focused on other people’s specks as we have the log in our own eye?  It’s pretty clear to me.  When we are “fixing” other people before we deal with our own, then we fall victim to our own issues and what we say loses its power.  We may, in fact, have the answers for other people’s issues.  We may be spot on!  Yet, as we fall victim to our own private sins, our advice goes limp.  People we are trying to help will think you can’t possibly know how to help them if you can’t help yourself.  That’s one side effect.

The other effect is also pretty obvious to me.  Sin has its’ own right now consequence, its’ own judgment in this world before the next.  We are taught that the wages of sin are slavery and death, yes in the next, but also right here and now too.  If we are focused on the problems of other people and not dealing with what is on our own plate then we fail to get free of that slavery and that becomes our downfall, spiritually, mentally, and physically-because sin robs us of the health of all three.

So how do we help others and ourselves without visiting judgment on ourselves?  I have an idea as I have read through the scriptures. Much of what Jesus said points to this, I think, and it is a matter of humility and obedience on how we approach ourselves and others.

There are many scriptures that allude to this but James 5:16 gives us a BIG hint. 
James 5:16:  16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Not just in the confessional, but when you are trying to help others, let them know you are dealing with things too.  Ask them to pray for you, and pray for them too.  We are all unworthy.  We are all sinners.  When we help from a place of humility we are truly helping two people, them and us.  We are seen more clearly as Christians not when we stand over someone looking down on them, but in the light of how we deal, humbly in Jesus our Christ, with our own problems.  It is in how we eat off our own plate helps others deal with theirs.  It’s a vulnerable power this humility, as it lays us Adam naked before people, but that is when it becomes less about us and more about Him who is in us.  That is when real healing takes place for all. 

Just some food for thought and prayer.

Here I am, Lord, send me.
Lisa Brandel