First, Remove the Plank

Ales Rarus – A Rare Bird, A Strange Duck, One Funky Blog » Have Christian Bloggers Lost the Plot?

Funky Dung, over at “Ales Rarus”:, considers an “interesting point”:

bq. My grandfather used to say that the habits or faults of other people that annoy us the most may be ones we are also guilty of.

He follows it up with a very good question:

bq. How can I reprove others for a sin I’m just as guilty of?

This is a question I’ve wrestled over many times before finally coming to terms with an answer that I believe is both balanced and biblical.

I think it is only natural that we most quickly identify and point out those habits or faults in other people that most annoy us, habits of which we may also be guilty. It’s a basic principle in social psychology. Those are the habits and faults that are most salient to us, most readily identifiable, most recently active in our own minds. They are the ones over which we struggle most strongly and about which we feel the greatest amount of shame. So, naturally, we see those habits and faults more quickly than others in everyone else.

The tough question is how can I possibly reprove someone else for something of which I myself am guilty? If it is something with which I am struggling and seeking at no point to actually correct, I don’t offer reproof. I hold my tongue, for to say something would make me a true hypocrite, something of which I have, justifiably, been accused in the past. If I am making no attempt to better myself and correct my own errant behavior, then I have no right to attemp to correct another in the same vice.

If, however, I am actively seeking to draw closer to God and deny the inappropriate behavior, then I do, I believe, have a biblical right and obligation to offer correction to another if I see it. I can, in Christian love, point out the error and offer fellowship to my fellow struggling brother. I can indicate that I, too, struggle with the same weakness but that I wish to overcome it and so give all the glory to God. We can share in the journey and the struggle, and while one or both of us may fall, the struggle is made easier in the sharing of the experience. Along the way we may find others who so struggle, and in joining with them, we strengthen our ranks, share the burden, and fight together with greater resolve. One or more of the strugglers may fall away, as is often the case, but the brotherhood of the struggle bonds us as a “three-strand cord”: that is not easily, or quickly, broken.

Is it hard to confront another about a like problem? Indeed, it is, and it is often done with lowered eyes and burning face. It is a commendable initiative, though, and one of which far too few of us partake. I believe that if more Christians would be willing to face each other with our problems with correction as the end goal, we would see a stronger, more effective Church. I also believe that sometimes it is those who struggle most similarly who are most able to help one another because they share similar weaknesses and are better able, then, to understand the trials that must be undergone to triumph over such weakness.

So, share in the struggles, carry one another’s burdens, and uplift one another to greater fellowship with God and with each other.

One thought on “First, Remove the Plank”

  1. Hmmm….reminds me of the parent who does not correct their child because they did drugs/alcohol/sex, etc. when they were young. I think you can boil it down even more simply. If you are currently doing it, your children are modeling the behavior. To correct them is ludicrous, unless you are willing to change yourself. But if you are no longer doing such behavior, then you have an obligation to correct them out of your wisdom and experience.

    The same applies to the situation mentioned in your post – as an alcoholic, would you rather talk to someone who has never made the fall, or someone who has and recovered? If we are in the “sin,” then we have no business correcting anyone else. But if we have experienced the “sin” and are no longer engaging in it, then we have a responsibility to warn those who are going down the same path. That is the difference between a hypocrite and a teacher.

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