Have you ever noticed that you know every flaw in every quilt you've ever made?
"No one will ever notice that," you tell her, and you're not saying it just to be nice.
|Even this close the unmatched points aren't quite so obvious|
|Quilt designed by Karen DuMont, vehicle appliques adapted from a pattern by The Country Quilter|
We often have the opposite problem when it comes to our lives. We excuse our faults rather than examine them closely. After all, examining ourselves would force us to admit we're sometimes wrong. Rude. Lazy. Hurtful. Selfish. It's not pretty and we'd rather not think of ourselves that way. Unfortunately, we don't excuse the people around us so readily.
Knowing this about human nature, Jesus said, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 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." (Matthew 7:1-5)
'Do not judge' may well be one of the most difficult commands to keep. Whether it is their social skills, their work ethic, their parenting or even their fashion sense, we often find other people lacking. While we may excuse our own bad mood as being the result of a lack of sleep or a headache, we may view someone else's bad mood as a character flaw.
Jesus' advice is for us to adjust our focus, paying more attention to our own flaws. We're to examine our lives as closely as we examine our quilt seams. Perfection isn't possible this side of eternity, but with Jesus as our example and the Holy Spirit as our Counselor, we should be making improvements.
When the center seams of a four-patch block don't match up, I rip out the seam and re-sew it. Unfortunately, I can't just undo the moment when I've said or done something wrong and do it over. All I can do is confess to God and apologize to anyone I have hurt. Then I try not to repeat the same mistake. That's 'taking the plank out of my eye.' To be honest, I hate ripping out seams. Apologizing can be even worse. In the end, though, both make for a better end result - either a better quilt or a better life.
Just as I sometimes have to sew a seam a few times before I get it right, removing a 'plank' from my life isn't always a one-time thing. It takes vigilance to keep them from planting themselves all over again, causing my view of myself and others to become distorted. I know I need to pin spots where I want seams to match. Likewise, once I discover a 'plank,' I know to watch for that particular problem in the future. That doesn't mean I'm always successful, but at least I'm aware of the problem and trying to improve.
What about you? Are you more particular about flaws in your quilts or in your life? Are you looking for 'planks' in your life as carefully as you look for imperfect seams? A quilt is beautiful when care has been taken to sew straight seams and match corners. A life lived trying to match God's standards is immeasurably more beautiful.