We have interviewed Tremper Longman III about his new book “The Bible and the Ballot” concerning Christians and politics. How do we flourish in a politically divisive environment, and try to unite and be persuasive.
It is not exactly an observation laced with uncommon insight to say that the political discourse in this nation has degenerated to a place maybe unknown in living memory. Complete discord and disunity. Unbridled animosity. Hypocritical intolerance. Often baseless accusations. Rash condemnation. Outright hatred. Death wishes via celebrity Twitter accounts. Death threats. Attempted murder in Alexandria, VA. Murder in Charlottesville, VA.
Incomprehensibly, the church of Jesus Christ – the church presumably built on His self-sacrificial example and His commandment to love, bless, and pray for even our enemies – finds itself deeply embedded in the fray and cacophony of this radically divided social and partisan decay. It finds itself openly aligning with and pledging to political parties and politicians, pushing legislation and policy preferences, seemingly fully reliant on the power of government to save, and fully invested in what appears to be nothing less than a “winner-take-all” conflict.
The prize is a sociopolitical environment altogether hospitable to the victors, but deeply hostile to the vanquished. There is no 2nd or 3rd place. There are no silver or bronze medals in this contest. For the various and sundry players on the field, seemingly everything is at stake. Some on the ragged edges of the conflict even assert that the difference between winning and losing will be a matter of life or death before all is said and done. Some feel that it already is a matter of life and death.
But what do the scriptures have to say to the church about our place, our role, and our participation in this contemporary political and cultural maelstrom – or any other across the timeline of history?
Is the call and responsibility of the church to become an activist group, lobbying and legislating on behalf of the kingdom of God (or at least on behalf of our “God-given rights”)? Or should we take up Rod Dreher’s controversial Benedict Option? Should we adopt a flexible posture of general conformity, re-tooling our message and approach in a more “culturally relevant” and “seeker sensitive” fashion? Or should we simply hold the fort, praying for Jesus to return, embracing a growing insularity while exhibiting an increasingly passive-aggressive response toward the world around us?
This is the first in a series of articles explaining my ever-evolving thought on what the scriptures actually have to say about the relationship of the church and its members to the state and the forces that animate it. Laying my cards on the table up front, I believe that there are some things we are not seeing clearly about the nature of this relationship. I believe that the Bible, in both very direct and indirect ways, has given some valuable instruction to guide us, to lead us, and, yes, even to caution us in the way we interact with these forces – especially when the attempt is to use them to bring about God’s kingdom imperatives.
First, this is not another diatribe by a former Conservative Christian who has seen the error of his ways. It is not another repentant confession by a misled Evangelical who has now embraced the progressive values of Social Justice and other left-leaning interpretations of the gospel. Nor is it an “I’ve seen the light” reversal by a former progressive who has come to see in the gospel an endorsement of distinctly American values (democratic, economic, or moral).
There are plenty of those kinds of stories out there. But in my case, I have not simply exchanged one political outlook for another. I am, however, learning what it means to exchange one kingdom for another. What this actually means is something I hope to make abundantly clear as we go.
Second, everything I will have to say in upcoming entries applies to both the left and right-leaning factions in the church, equally. This is because, while the kingdom of God shares certain similarities with conservatism (usually moral) and progressivism (usually social), it is actually neither of them. It is not even what we often refer to as a “third way.” The kingdom of God is completely other, and it exhibits a stubborn and persistent refusal to be co-opted by the multitude of terrestrial forces that would use it to accomplish their own ends.
An important part of laying the groundwork for this series is clearing the air of certain assumptions about what I am saying before we engage – assumptions that even now might be fomenting in the mind of the reader. Maybe the most important thing to address at the outset is what I am not saying.
- I am not saying that we should disengage the world and enter into retreat.
- I am not saying that we shouldn’t be informed about what is happening in the world around us.
- I am not saying that we shouldn’t have very strong opinions about political developments, especially when they directly impact us and our loved ones.
- I am not saying that we shouldn’t exercise responsible and conscientious civic participation.
- I am not saying we shouldn’t speak to the issues, especially those which threaten the well-being of humanity.
What I am saying:
- We must learn to differentiate between that which is of the world and that which is truly representative of God’s kingdom.
- We must learn to differentiate between that which is flesh and that which is Spirit.
- We must learn to lay aside the personal agendas and coercive tendencies that always attend the ways of the world and the flesh, even when that costs us a great deal, and even when we have within our grasp the power to establish our goals through political means.
- We must learn that the goals and imperatives of the kingdoms of this world generally stand in stark contrast to those of the kingdom of God. In the rare instances in which they overlap, they do so coincidentally and quite superficially.
- We must understand God’s attitude toward these earthly and temporal powers because it is unmistakable: “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever.”
Ultimately, I am saying that the goal, the task, the responsibility, the passion, and the singular strategy of the church should be to express, exhibit, represent, and demonstrate God’s kingdom in love, in purity, in power, and in truth, until its final and complete arrival – a day that will see it overthrow every other competing kingdom and establish its reign forever. I am saying that this route is the only one that has any genuine power to affect real and lasting change in our nation or in the world at large.
As a method of being consistent and concise, we will be using two phrases throughout this series:
- The Kingdom of God
- The Kingdoms of this World
We will delve deeply into the meaning of both, but for right now, let’s provide a preliminary working definition of each:
The kingdom of God refers to the realm from which God rules and reigns. It is a realm whose inauguration on earth was announced with Jesus Christ’s arrival. With the coming of the Messiah, a new declaration was made to the world: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus was the embodiment and perfect revelation of that kingdom.
The kingdom of God is a realm in which God’s will is done perfectly. Jesus says that this kingdom currently lives within and among his followers even now, displayed wherever they go. And this kingdom is yet destined to supplant every other kingdom and establish its universal reign forever.
The kingdoms of this world refer to the various global authorities and powers which vie for control and domination of the earth (whether that domination is local or global in its ambition).
These powers include the nations and all of the political and governmental machinery that drives them. It also includes military strength, law, economics, commerce, arts and entertainment, etc. They also include the powers of darkness: Satanic and demonic forces.
Moving forward, whenever we refer to the kingdom of God, we are referring to the realm of God’s rule – which is both here now but also yet to come (in terms of its fullest expression).
When we refer to the kingdoms of this world, we will be speaking specifically about the political and governmental expressions of those kingdoms, the human forces that steer them, and the evil powers that manipulate them from behind the scenes.
Theologian and pastor Greg Boyd succinctly and effectively contrasts these two kingdoms this way: “While all the versions of the kingdoms of the world acquire and exercise power over others, the kingdom of God, incarnated and modeled in the person of Jesus Christ, advances only by exercising power under others.”
Boyd goes on to explain that the power under of the kingdom of God is best symbolized by the cross, while the power over exercised by the kingdoms of this world are best symbolized by the sword. Truth, love, service, and sacrifice versus selfish ambition, coercion, and force.
Which set most immediately stands out as being the most accurate description of God’s kingdom?
The essays which follow in this series do not unfold in any particular order. They are not a systematic treatment of the topic, because the scriptures are not systematic in the way they address it. I will not be attempting to build an argument for “my position,” as much as I will be seeking to provoke deeper consideration of certain conclusions often taken for granted in the church today – particularly the American church. These articles represent a collection of thoughts aggregated over time, as I have sought to navigate the maze of my position as an appreciative and grateful American citizen, juxtaposed with the fact that, as a Christian, I have a higher allegiance and loyalty to which I am bound.
Whether you agree or disagree with my conclusions, I hope these entries will have the final combined effect of deepening our allegiance to the only kingdom destined to remain forever – the kingdom of God.
 Some might argue that the current schism in this country was rivaled in the 1960s, citing the youth counterculture, anti-war protests, battles for civil rights and racial equality, and a new phase in the evolution of activist feminism. But based on my listening, many who were there suggest that a much stronger sense of genuine acrimony exists today. In the 1960s there was still a more or less unified sense of our national values, fading though they were. The indication is that in the 1960s the battle was for the full realization of America’s promise – even while significant numbers of young adults were beginning to question the value and validity of that promise. It was tense and at times even violent. Today, agreement about those national values has all but evaporated – resulting in a tangible and qualitative difference between upheavals in the 1960s and those in America circa 2019. We now clearly live in two different Americas, each one having fully decided on the evil embodied by the other. The fight is not always as overt and visible as it was in the 1960s, but the stakes are higher. We are caught in a vortex of competing and completely contrary ideas regarding what America will become. Some have likened it to a “Civil Cold War,” or a “Civil War by Proxy.” These proxies consist of various in-groups, special interests, political parties, and social movements vying for ultimate control – the power to impose and enforce their own definition of America with little regard for the democratic processes we on which we were founded.
 Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option is a proposal which focuses on (quoting the author), “Forming Christians who live out Christianity according to Great Tradition,” a task which, “requires embedding within communities and institutions dedicated to that formation.” Dreher’s proposal has been deeply criticized as a full retreat into a kind of 21st-century monasticism. This is a criticism Dreher rejects, and I think his reasons for rejecting that critique are good. I use the term simply because it has become somewhat synonymous with the idea of a functional Christian disengagement since the book’s publication in 2017. For more information see Dreher’s Benedict Option FAQ.
 It may appear to have been co-opted at various times, for example by modern political action groups like the Moral Majority on the right or activist ministries like Sojourners on the left. Or Constantine’s Rome, as an ancient example. One must realize that man’s declaration that he is on God’s side has little bearing on whether or not God has declared Himself to be on man’s side. God calls man to be His representative. He doesn’t answer to us, that He should be our representative. Jesus Christ did represent man “once for all” through the sacrifice of Himself – but as an offering for our sin (Hebrews 7:27). Not as a spokesman for any political or social agenda. He represented us as a substitutionary atonement, dying in our place as a sacrifice for the crimes we had committed against God. (Romans 3:10-26)
 Revelation 11:15
 Matthew 3:2; also Matthew 4:17
 Matthew 6:9-10 – “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
 Luke 17:20-21 – “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation…for behold it is in your midst.” (“…for behold it is within you.” KJV)
 Revelation 11:15, as quoted previously.
 In the Book of Daniel, chapter two, Daniel the prophet interprets a dream experienced by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. In his dream, the king witnessed a large statue made of gold, silver, bronze, and iron, with feet of mixed iron and clay. Daniel stated that these different metals represented different kingdoms and empires throughout history. Competing interpretations parse out the details differently, but Daniel makes it clear that the statue does represent various worldly kingdoms and their temporal authority (there is not much debate on this point). The vision ends with a “rock hewn from stone, but not by human hands” striking the statue on the feet, toppling it with such force that the shattered pieces are like dust blown away with the wind. The “rock” then becomes a mountain which grows to fill the entire earth. Regardless of one’s eschatological position, this rock is almost universally interpreted to be Jesus Christ, who will shatter all earthly power, setting up His eternal rule – which shall extend over all the earth.
 Ephesians 6:12 refers to them as, “The rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers over this present darkness; the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.”
 It is important for me to establish that my theological differences with Boyd are great, particularly regarding his Open View of God’s omniscience. My single quotation of Boyd should not be mistaken as a blanket endorsement of all he espouses.
 Boyd, Gregory A. Myth of a Christian Nation. Zondervan, 2005.
“What we need is a national conversation…”
The call for the correction of injustice resounds throughout every corner of contemporary society—from the legal system, to prices of goods, to taxes, to healthcare, to race and culture, to sex, pronouns, and the appropriate range of rights. We keep feeling and hearing the need for a “national conversation” on these issues, and yet the moment one speaks on these issues, condemnations flood in from one or both sides. Real conversation is not possible in a sea of attempted-mic-dropping.
So, too, it is not clear to me what constitutes a “national conversation,” but it is clear to me that even interpersonal conversations on these topics quickly reduce to a cornucopia of fallacies that serve only to increase righteous indignation.
I will not claim to be an expert on these issues, nor do I have the (public) audacity to claim that a read through a few blogs from me will solve all the questions of justice and injustice. Nevertheless, I do believe I can offer, primarily by borrowing from those wiser, better, and more intelligent than me, and offering that to you. That is, after all, what Tactical Faith is all about, and we hope that in the coming months and years, we might help clarify some of these ideas so as to encourage real conversation.
Why You Don’t Care about Justice
The world is filled with injustice. This, I think, most of us can agree upon. We are generally unmoved by injustice until it touches us, and then, if we are honest with ourselves, we often overreact and exaggerate its level. But at times injustice becomes a huge issue, and, like any other bit of suffering, our focus seems to be solely on making it stop.
That is, we seem very adept at recognizing injustice, and, if it comes close enough to home, perhaps even quite moved to destroy injustice.
But, like a disease, we seem only to recognize injustice when it begins to hurt. And, too, only if it hurts, or threatens to hurt, me and/or those I care about. This might not seem troubling, until you recognize that we generally don’t care about justice, we only care about avoiding any suffering that comes from injustice.
One might be quick to condemn this as a moral defect, and it no doubt is. But, like all moral defects, it is not only a moral defect. Moral defects can rarely (I believe never) be divorced from defects in epistemology (how we know) and metaphysics (what all that exists really is). While a host of defects may be discovered around our strange lack of concern about justice, perhaps the most glaring one is the mix of certainty and ignorance regarding the nature of justice. Put simply: Everyone knows that they know what justice is, and no one really knows what it is.
We get fired up when we suffer injustice because we feel the pain (physical, emotional, financial, etc.) of it. We fail to feel any fire about justice because we feel nothing for it—except in those rare, delicious moments when we see someone we hate get “justice.”
Is justice just this “comeuppance”? If so, getting excited about it seems silly, at least if I reflect on the innumerable wicked things I have done. Other than watching those I hate get hurt, and feeling terrified of suffering the same fate, justice is atrociously boring. It is, we’d say, things being “fair.” Any good story begins not with fairness, but with unfairness. Justice is served at the end—just like a love story that ends with marriage, so a heroic movie ends with justice. And, just like romantic movies would be terribly dull if they included the day-to-day drabness and struggles of a marriage, so heroic movies would be terribly dull if they included a situation at the end where fairness carried the day for some time. At the end of Taken, say, we watch the family not have any trouble or anyone get lost as they get groceries, go on vacations, and go to work day in and day out.
These wouldn’t make good stories. Justice does not make a good story, but only the overcoming of injustice. And so, too, we either don’t care about injustice (that has nothing to do with us) or we get fired up about it (because it affects us somehow), but in neither case are we interested in justice itself, except as a means of hurting those we hate.
I’ll not argue this point, but simply ask you to consider yourself and those around you (mostly yourself): Do you want problems resolved and peace and kindness to reign? If you answered, “Yes,” I think you might be lying to yourself. We love having reasons to complain. Nothing gives us identity or creates friendships faster (among adults) than suffering the same (real or imagined) injustice. A community that complains together, stays together.
Which is why it seems almost no one offers solutions and a clear presentation of what justice really looks like. Yes, some people claim to offer solutions, but they almost invariably suggest that 1) their enemies be punished, and 2) their favored group (usually themselves) be given power (or, what amounts to the same thing, money). But that’s not a solution. It is the end of a heroic movie—where the beloved underdog ends up on top. But it fails to show how that erstwhile underdog is prone to corruption, abusing power to hurt those who troubled him/her, eventually becoming the very thing s/he fought to overthrow.
If you are thinking, “Yes, those ‘social justice warriors’ are doing this very thing!” I’d ask you, again, to consider yourself. For Christians, too, seem obsessed with seeing themselves as persecuted and, thus, having a right to complaints about being marginalized and society dying, and so forth. And what is our solution? Get more (real) Christians in power—you know, the incorruptible kind of Christian!
Perhaps, we should take a deep breath and reflect for a moment on what exactly justice is? Why does the punishing-our-enemies part of it get us so excited and the living-in-harmony part seems so dull? Is justice simply fairness or something better?
If it is dull, perhaps this might give us pause: The New Testament word for “justice” is the same word for “righteousness.” Is righteousness dull? It seems so, for we are far more fascinated by sin—we are obsessed with doing sin (injustice), in complaining about being sinned against (treated unjustly), and in punishing those who sin against us (exacting justice). But surely that punishment that so excites us does not exhaust the meaning of justice/righteousness. If it does, then woe be unto us!
So, again, what is justice? Why is it something we should fight to maintain? How does it exceed mere punishment for wrongdoing? How does it relate to the various questions that humans have asked for millennia? What about those questions that plague us today? How does justice translate into questions of wages, issues of abortion and homosexual marriage, hate speech, forms of government, the relationship between business and government, the Church’s involvement in government, the power of government over one’s personal life (and what is considered personal), charity, immigration, taxes, war, and so on?
These questions rage among us, dividing citizen from citizen, and even Christian from Christian. In all these questions, we are debating justice. But we never talk about justice itself. We assume we already know. And so the battle rages on, dividing and creating hate, but never teaching us anything, let alone inspiring us toward something great.
So, though I myself am quite ignorant, I will attempt to offer a short series that will introduce some ideas about justice as presented in the Bible and in great thinkers. My goal: To inspire readers toward greatness, and away from that selfish abuse of the idea of justice to which most of us are addicted. It is hoped that we at Tactical Faith will be able to further discussion of the nature of justice, and then its relation to these other topics, through some live events as well.
 We could fight to put incorruptible Christians in power, but I’m afraid the dead won’t get much done.
The recent senate race in Alabama and the win of Doug Jones, and loss of Roy Moore, has stirred up a lot of negative feelings. I’ve seen people on both sides of the aisle who wear the mantle of Christian deride the other side, claiming moral and theological superiority.
It is my hope that I do not fall into this pit, which is why I will refrain from naming names or adding screenshots of Facebook posts or tweets. I myself have some strong feelings about politics, one of which is the abhorrent nature of abortion—the almost 60 million innocent lives burned or torn from their mothers seems to me the greatest evil this nation has ever committed. It is not, though, the only terrible evil this nation has ever committed. Slavery surely stands in the top two.
But “this nation” includes me. I have participated in its great evils. The loss of respect for authority, the ramifications of which we have only begun to experience, I have helped further. The Bible teaches us to respect our parents. I have disrespected my parents and others who are my elders—wiser and better than I. Plato, too, warns of what happens when a society becomes “democratic” so much so that even young people believe themselves equal to their elders, and so need not listen to them—anarchy, then tyranny follows, with their concomitant death and destruction.
Sneering and derision are dangerous. We can criticize, surely, as I am about to do. But I must do so with the realization that I, too, am a sinner. I have participated in the apathy, weakness of morality, hatred, division, and injustice about which I complain. Perhaps, I am in a running with Paul for being the chief among sinners.
Let me first make a simple (but sobering) point: The most capable deceiver of you is you. Jeremiah tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). We are quick to believe that which supports our ends and hurts those whom we consider opposed to us. Modern psychology bears this out, suggesting that whenever we think of reasons for actions, these reasons are formed after the choice was made. They justify what we’ve already decided to do—they are rarely used to decide between choices.
This goes for everything from interpreting the news to interpreting the Bible.
This special election could not have done a better job of proving this point. Conservatives—both the everyday person and some very informed—were almost invariably convinced of Moore’s innocence, while the more liberal—both the everyday person and some very informed—were almost invariably convinced of Moore’s guilt. They had the same evidence, but different conclusions. Why? Because most, even (perhaps especially) those in the “intelligentsia,” believe first what they want to believe, and then justify their choice with reasons only afterward.
This is not an unsolvable problem. But it is perhaps even more difficult to overcome in a day of social media. When once those of us who are of little note had either to face those we condemned, or share our judgments in the company of few, now we can damn the masses through the shared public space of social media.
To shout loud condemnations into the public gives us an immediate pleasurable rush that quickly evaporates, leaving us empty and hungry for more. Attend to yourself and you’ll see that this is true.
So, too, to withdraw, to practice the same silence that Jesus practiced before those who condemned Him, gives us the time to reflect on our thoughts, to consider our reasons, and ultimately nourishes patience, love, and a deep joy. The first thing we must do is remember that God is in control. For like Israel’s desire to have a king and chariots to win their battles, thus showing their lack of trust in God, so too we desperately fight to gain the upper hand in everything from political battles to social media spats, showing that we believe God is no longer involved.
And we end up weary, angry, divided, empty. What is accomplished? Whose mind is changed? Perhaps we feel we’ve defended God’s glory or His commands in some manner, like Job’s friends who fail to grasp both that God is beyond their simple understanding and is in no need of their defense.
I’m not saying that we should not be involved in politics and political dialogue. Quite the contrary. I think we should be involved in political dialogue. Stop trying to win and attempt to see the other person’s reasons—for those reasons expose the desires of their heart. And then reflect on your own reasons and the desires those reasons expose. From that, dialogue may indeed arise. What we’re doing now isn’t dialogue anymore than a screaming match between two toddlers over an envied toy is a dialogue.
Consider the question: What do you think about abortion? Well, I’ve made my own views clear above. I’ve stated that I think it is a tremendous evil. I’ve even acted in some small ways again abortion (including an unsuccessful attempt to discourage a friend from having an abortion). But, to be honest—and consider with me—abortion isn’t a huge weight on my mind. But as soon as political discussion arises, abortion becomes a sledgehammer I swing around in political discussion, without much concern for who or what gets hurt or destroyed.
Now, I am not saying that you should not vote for pro-life candidates. Consider though: Even the so-called pro-life politicians, who speak with great zeal during elections about the horrors of abortion, seem to lose that concern once the election ends.
My purpose is not really to criticize politicians. But rather to suggest that their emphasis on something like abortion is very much like our own: We really only care during elections (or during our own political debates). The rest of the time, we are wrapped up in getting a nicer house, paying off our credit cards, and other things that have an immediate effect on us (which usually means stuff that messes with our money).
Again, my purpose is not even really to criticize you in your zeal regarding abortion (perhaps more zeal + some better strategy would be helpful). Rather, I believe that abortion is primarily a tool we use to condemn others and support those we like. When we really think of what abortion is doing, we feel the weight of it, and perhaps find ourselves overcome with sadness—for the baby, for the mother—and with repentance—for being part of a society in which such “choices” feel necessary, or even praiseworthy, to so many. (If you think you are not part of the problem, then consider how much you value individualism, even to the point where a church’s value—the church being the body of Christ, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1)—is determined by what it gives to you. After such reflection, then consider how you may feed into the problem of abortion, which also focuses on the idol of the self.)
We should be overcome by our need for repentance for our own culpability in such worship of the self, by the intense sadness even for those who celebrate abortion—for we, too, would be lost in the glorification of sin if it were not for the grace of God. (Even with God’s grace, I find my will constantly falling into the empty “happiness” of evil.) Instead of this sadness and repentance moving us to bring about change, abortion has become a tool to attack and besmirch, to ignore issues of character that may indeed matter.
Again, if you think I am saying that a vote for Moore was some terrible sin, then you are missing my point. If you think I am saying that refusing to vote, writing in a candidate, or a vote for Jones was some terrible sin, then you are missing my point as well. Reasonable arguments can be, and have been, made for both sides—both of which can be argued with, etc. etc.
I am saying that our hearts deceive us. That rarely do we allow the call of Scripture to transform us, but rather we interpret the teachings of the Bible and the political landscape in ways that support what we have decided beforehand—our already-chosen lifestyle, political party, moral emphases, and so forth.
And, I think, whether you voted for Moore, Jones, or wrote in Mickey Mouse, if you were so caught up in the empires of this world and so quick to throw stones, not recognizing your own sin, then, yes, what you did was a sin. The most dangerous sin of the self-righteous—which is dangerous precisely because it cannot recognize itself as sin.
And if you are on social media condemning those who disagree, claiming (for example) that Moore’s supporters (most of whom do not believe the allegations) have no problem with pedophilia, as long as they get their “R,” then I think you may have failed to really listen and learn from those you consider worthy of derision. That is, I think, sin.
And if you are on social media condemning those who disagree, claiming (for example) that Jones’s supporters apparently love abortion and support the homosexual lifestyle, then I think perhaps you haven’t listened. Many who vote Democrat religiously are in fact opposed to either or both of these things, but they vote Democrat for other reasons (have you not heard about the race relations problem in the U.S.?). So, too, many who voted for Jones this election cycle were simply disgusted by allegations they consider likely true. And if you are unwilling to listen to their concerns, but simply condemn them outright, I’d suggest that you, too, are sinning.
Perhaps, you will conclude from this that I hold these issues—abortion and unproven (and probably unprovable) allegations—to hold equal ground. But that’s not my point. My point is far simpler: Look to yourself first. I must take the plank out of my own eye. And if I spend a few moments concerning myself with what is ruining my own vision—my deceitful heart, quickness to condemn, my desire for self-righteousness—then perhaps I can assist my brother or sister in clearing their vision.
May God help me to see that I can’t see everything, so that I might never stop seeking, listening, learning, and repenting.