Every time you get on a plane, it’s always the same routine: 1) wait to board, 2) find your seat, 3) sit in your seat, 4) wait for everyone to get on board, and 5) listen to the same flight safety information spiel they give every time. Most of the time, by step 5, no one is paying any attention. You just want to get in the air and get to wherever you’re going. Besides, you know exactly what the flight attendants will say, so why even pay attention? Though I have been guilty of this many times, the last time I was on a plane, something got me thinking that made me pay a bit more attention to those safety instructions.
As the flight attendants reached the segment about the oxygen masks, they gave the standard line: “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” If you don’t put on your mask first, you will be unable to help those around you to keep them safe. Pretty straightforward reasoning, right? Though we hear this idea all the time on the planes without questioning it, do we carry the same idea over into our spiritual lives?
In Luke 6, we see Jesus preaching to his disciples after a confrontation with the religious leaders. Within this sermon, Jesus uses several parables to describe the types of people His followers should be while trying to point out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. In verses 41-42, Jesus tells the crowd, “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, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (NASB). Although put in the middle of many others, this parable is a clear indication of the problem. The Pharisees saw themselves as the go-to examples for how to live a good spiritual life. They thought themselves to be the highest and most righteous individuals of all the Jews – their way was the proper way to live and work. Because of these things, the religious leaders failed to see the problems in their spiritual lives separating them from God. Instead of working on themselves first, they chose to work on others who did not meet their standards. The Pharisees had a log in their eye that needed to be removed first.
Do we have this same problem today? Can we be guilty of looking out for the specks in each others’ eye while we fail to see the log in our own? Absolutely. We like to tell ourselves and others that we don’t have any faults or flaws in us. We can often look for the negatives in others as a way of boosting ourselves and our confidence. We can easily be guilty of comparing others to our standards. If we fall into these categories, we have a log in our eyes.
What do we do to fix this problem? How can we go about changing how we look at one another and ourselves? The answer is just as the flight attendants say: “Put on your own mask before assisting others.” To be truly effective in helping others improve their spiritual lives, we must first work to improve our own. This may mean that we need to do some tough evaluating of ourselves, which can be uncomfortable. We are a people that do not like to be critical of ourselves. However, through our study and self-examination, we can improve our spiritual lives for the better. We can learn to become better in how we live, which in return will aid us in assisting others in their walk with the Lord. This week, I encourage everyone to do some self-examination of our spiritual lives and “put on our own masks” to make sure we are where we should be.