On The Difference Between A Mirror And A Club

There are few places where the Golden Rule–do unto others as you would have them do unto you–is more honored in the breach than in observance than when it comes to the use of scripture for reproof and correction.  In writing as well as in speaking from the lectern, I have delivered my fair share of corrective messages, so I am not speaking as someone who is opposed to the practice, but is someone who is concerned about the abuse of it.  It is my belief that the better we are when it comes to honest self-examination, the more compassionate we are to others when we examine them.  We might find as much that is lacking or that is not the way it should be, but we will think of others as people, at least.  That is, at least, my belief.

Romans 1 is a classic chapter when it comes to looking at the decadent and fallen nature of corrupt man [1].  Admittedly, this passage encourages us to look out at others.  We see the Greek and Roman philospohers, their atheism and pederasty, and we are encouraged to think that the sins and problems of that chapter–of which there are many–are a problem for someone else.  We can certainly see such problems all too easily in the world around us as well.  Yet the limitations of this approach are somewhat obvious.  To point out the sins and failings and shortcomings of other people is a fairly trivial matter.  Some people sin obviously and unconsciously, others sin obviously and even more than a little bit flagrantly.  That said, there is a nearly uniform response to being called a sinner by someone with a sense of smug self-righteousness, and that response is not repentance.

The usual response, in fact, is for those who are accused of sin is to find some sin to accuse their accuser of.  This is usually not a very difficult task, not least because other people are as quick to find fault in us as we are in them, and often because when we accuse others we are often unaware of the fact that our faults are often as obvious to others as theirs is to us.  No doubt we have our own secret sins, as do others, but a lot of unpleasant aspects of our nature is not too difficult for others to find if they are remotely observant.  And people are rarely more observant than when they want to find fault with us over something.  I can think of dozens of irritating and bothersome habits I have that others spot without much trouble at all, and which I find it unpleasant and irksome to be reminded of, and from my observation it is the same way for just about everyone else I happen to see.

What is it that we wish to accomplish?  When we are accusing and pointing fingers, we are not doing much of us to ourselves, at least.  Satan got his name, after all, from being a prosecuting attorney, and when we accuse each other we are doing his work for him.  When we use scripture as a club, most of us find that others are as adept in using that club against us as we are at using it ourselves.  It is far less unpleasant when we use the Bible as a mirror, like the kind we use to make sure that we aren’t leaving the house with any sort of embarrassing cuts or marks or with toilet paper hanging out of our shoes or anything like that.  The Bible makes a useful mirror like that too, since we are all prone to be less reflective about our moral life than we are about our physical life.  The more we can reflect wisely, though, the less urge we will have to point our fingers at others, and the less easily it will be for others to point fingers at us.  We an probably agree those are both very good outcomes.

[1] See, for example:





About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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