Motes and Beams

Our own faults are often what we find to criticize in others


I glared at Stephen’s messy desk and thought how much I wished he’d tidy it up. Then I thought about the package that he said he wanted to put together and mail, and  I grumbled to myself about the evils of procrastination and the blessings of attending to what needed attending to. As I listened to myself I began to smile. So what was I not doing that needed attention–what messes and piles, what neglected tasks? 


In the biblical Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has quite a bit to say about correct behavior. What is being spoken of there are truths of a psychological nature as well as suggestions about how to act. One of the statements concerns what in the King James version is termed “motes and beams.” The reference is to casting out the mote in one’s neighbor’s eye when one has a beam in one’s own. As most know, a mote is a tiny speck, a beam is more like a log.


The beam in my own eye is the issue that needs attending to, not the mote in the eye of my neighbor. What bothers us most about others is all too often something that annoys us about ourselves. Yet because I am reluctant to acknowledge that I am less than perfect, all too often I ignore my undesirable traits or practices so that I don’t have to deal with them. And because I do not wish to look at them in myself, I see them all too clearly in others. It’s as though some part of me wants me to see what I wish to ignore.


I do have a task I keep neglecting. For some time I have been working on a sequel to my book, Heartwings: Love Notes for a Joyous Life. It’s called, Heartwings Lemonade Stand: How to Juice Life’s Lemons. I’ve had it almost finished for a while. Yet without a deadline I have not been able to make myself complete it. Here was the beam in my own eye. Right then I set to work and spent a couple of hours finishing one section and renewed my commitment to completing my manuscript. Now whenever I am tempted to criticize Stephen for procrastinating, I know exactly what I need to do: get to work myself.


May you learn to recognize the mirror of your faults and use the reminder well. 

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