When The Plank Comes Into View

When The Plank Comes Into View

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye – Jesus

One of these days you’ll see the plank. The absurdity of your pride will come around and stand directly in front of you. That corruption protruding from your life, to which you were blind and others could not help but see, will suddenly appear to you as it truly is – obvious. Like coming out of a trance to find yourself standing over a relational massacre to discover the weapon in your hand. It’s a horrific awareness. What you’ve been doing to people. What you’ve been justifying. It’s shocking who we are. More shocking still is who we thought we were, but actually aren’t. Right now you think you are one thing, but your wicked heart blinds you to the other. In the same way the late evening sun reveals a universe of particles hiding in plain sight – so our corruption is suddenly seen everywhere in the space of our hearts.

It’s not easy coming to terms with your sinfulness. Coming to terms with you. Seeing the plank. The more convinced we are that we’re better than most the more painful the seeing is. We grieve our dearly departed self-delusion. We are not “good” after all. The lie we told ourselves finally played out. A well kept secret finally exposed. Original conceptions devastated by exposure to the truth. The self-righteous fall reluctantly grabbing at virtue on the way down. Things begin to fall out from under us. Our justifications have been resting upon a rotten core. The supports of a previous arrogance and confidence crack and then collapse underneath us. Down we go. The safe covering we enjoyed behind the sin of others finally gone. Who we really are in plane view of all.

I am not here referring to those larger pieces of brokenness easily discerned, swept up and discarded. Those whole fragments we dispose of rather immediately. The ones we congratulate each other for having eliminated. I mean more those tiny shards of us we miss and fail to notice until they unexpectedly pierce our conscience. Things beneath things. Predispositions under traits. Tendencies below patterns. The large pieces you can simply walk over and pick up. The slivers you don’t see until you’re bleeding. The root of depravity. The birthplace of lusts that give life to addictions. The furnace of anger that kindles in the abuse of others. The headwaters of covetousness that spill out in greed and discontent. The heart. There is a den of foulness underneath our motives that scurries from the light when we lift it up.

When we are here – at this level of conviction – all pretense is gone. What you thought was a peaceful lagoon is – after all – a sewage plant. Sadly, your holidays have been spent on its shore. From here there is only a retreat inland to grace where we are accepted in light of our true condition. Our sinful hearts make Christ obvious. Gone also is the pathetic allusion that we have any power to assuage the tide of sin in our hearts by mere methods. With one whiff of our corruption we know the ordinary means are means and not ends. We are wholly dependent on grace even in the mortification of our flesh. It is my experience that truly godly people make no big fuss over godliness. They know it does not arise from them. Truer still the godly do not measure mortification by observable increments being fully aware of how deep it goes. In seeing our hearts we ask the Doctor to use scalpels and put away our paintbrushes. All is of grace and mercy.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil din your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.

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