I doubt I need to give this disclaimer, but I did not take the picture in today’s thought. The picture reminds me of a story, and I am afraid I do not remember where I read it so I cannot cite it properly.
The story went like this. In a small village in a time different from our own, when everyone hung their wash out on a clothesline to dry, two neighbours lived side by side and prided themselves in the cleanliness of their washes. Remember, this was a day when everything was done by hand, including the washing of the laundry, so it was no small feat to make the whites brilliant white.
One day Jane looked out her kitchen window at her neighbour’s wash and laughed. The whites were not white, but grey. How could her neighbour put out laundry that looked so dirty? Jane felt quite proud of herself when laundry day came and she put out her brilliant white sheets.
The next week Jane looked out her window once again and noticed her neighbour putting out her laundry. She shook her head in disgust as she noted that the laundry was no better than last week. In fact, it looked a little worse. What could her neighbour be thinking?
The next week Jane was at the window waiting for her neighbour to put her wash out, ready to criticize the quality of her work once more. Sure enough, the laundry looked even worse than the week before, and Jane shook her head in disgust. But as she watched the neighbour hanging the sheets, a gust of wind came up and started to pull the sheets out of the neighbour’s hand. Though Jane might be critical, she was a good neighbour, so she ran out to help her neighbour rescue the laundry from the wind.
As Jane ran towards the neighbour’s clothesline, she was startled to discover that the sheets were brilliant white. They did not look like the sheets she had seen from her window. Jane graciously helped the neighbour secure the sheets with clothespins, and then made her way back to her house. How could the sheets look so white when she was outside, but so grey when she looked at them from her kitchen window?
Jane went into her house and looked again at the neighbour’s sheets. Sure enough, they were grey once more. Jane was puzzled for a bit until she looked closely at her window. It was covered in dirt and silt. She grabbed a bucket and water and scrubbed the window clean. When she went back into the house and looked again at her neighbour’s wash, it now appeared brilliantly white! The problem, it seems, was not the wash, but the window through which it was viewed. Everything looked dirty when viewed through a dirty window!
The moral of the story? It may not be the people or the circumstances around us that needs fixing. It may be us. The lens through which we look is dirty. Our hearts need cleaning, our attitudes need adjusting. Is this what Jesus was getting at in Matthew 7:5: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”?
– Pastor Gary