I don’t know about you, but I’ve been at the other end of someone else’s finger plenty of times. Having been in the church and out of the church, I can clearly say that I’ve seen that finger pointing at me much more in the church that outside of it.
One of the primary reasons people won’t go to church is because of that finger. No one enjoys feeling like another person is judging them whether they were in the wrong or not. If I had to rate the top reason for people not turning to God it is just that, the finger.
One of those people was my own grandmother. For years, she struggled with her weight. It was a constant battle for her and, back then, people didn’t consider it fairly normal like today where most people are overweight.
In addition to her weight, my grandparents lived a humble life and didn’t spend a lot of their money on clothes. In the local church, putting on ‘Sunday’s best’ was common and considered respectful. But, when you didn’t have very nice clothes, ‘Sunday’s best’ may have seemed like someone else’s not so best.
Sadly, for as much of a wonderful, generous, and loving person as she was, she rarely stepped into the church because of that finger. For Grandma, that finger didn’t just point at church, it was at the grocery store, the post office, and while she was just walking down the street.
I’ll never forget being no more than four years old and asking her while she was in the kitchen making me lunch, “Grandma, why are you so fat?” Sure, it was an innocent question from a child who just didn’t understand, but, it hurt her deeply and she cried. I cried too because I never wanted her to be hurt. I never looked at her as fat after that day.
The truth is, it can just as easily be the inward faults people judge for. That’s what finger pointing is: judging. Some call it throwing stones based on the story of Jesus being brought a woman caught in adultery who was threatened with being stoned. When asked by them what they should do, His only reply; he of you who has no sin, throw the first stone. They all walked away.
In college on our dorm wing, there was a student who was older than the rest of us named Craig. Craig was a height challenged guy who was husky and, being a hell fire and brimstone type of theology student, he enjoyed pointing his finger at us who were less mature and saying, ‘man…, you better get on your face before God, BRO!!’ Needless to say, we often imitated Craig when he wasn’t around.
So, the question remains, who among us has no sin? The answer, no one. Not one. Zero. Notta. Nill. Then, why do we put it on ourselves at times to point that emotional finger pointer at another person (most of us would never think of actually pointing an actual finger at someone, but certainly can think it)?
For some, they feel so badly about themselves that, in a sad way, feel better after finding fault in others. Others, who believe their poo doesn’t stink (at least as much as other peoples), put it upon themselves to look down at others. And some, are truly hateful with their need to judge others because, in reality, they can never take personal responsibility for their own failures.
Whatever the reason, Jesus calls us all to put down our stones. He commands us to love one another, to forgive one another, to pray for our enemies, and to turn the other cheek when hurt. Those are not easy commands. They are, without His grace working in our own hearts, in fact impossible.
The key, realizing that, without forgiving others, we will never find the forgiveness we’re looking for. For me, that is the one truth in the whole Bible that keeps me humble and forgiving of others. I don’t ever want Him to turn away from me because I can’t find it in my heart to put down those stones.
So, tonight, join with me in putting down our stones. I encourage you find a quiet place to be alone, and forgive others. It’s a process, but it will never happen if we don’t try. I guarantee that, after you make a habit of it, you will feel a freedom like never before. And, before we find that speck in our brother’s eye, let’s pull the plank out of our own first. Because, I don’t know about you, but it would be awfully hard to see with a large piece of wood stuck in my eye…!
Much love my friends,