But he is a man. Some things he just doesn’t see or even think to look for. I was loading the dishwasher one morning and after rinsing a plate my eyes fell on the window sill. A layer of dust coated it, which, being in the kitchen where cooking grease rises in the steam and settles with an adhesive and almost audible thump, couldn’t just be quickly wiped away.
That evening when I stepped out of the shower, I saw the top of the baseboards. And that’s when it hit me. What about my baseboards? What about my kitchen window sill? When was the last time I cleaned them? When was the last time I even thought to look and see if they needed cleaning?
It’s so much easier to see someone else’s dirt—and that goes for spiritual dirt too. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, Matt 7:3-5. Jesus warns us about judging others more harshly than ourselves, about expecting perfection from others who might actually be closer to it than we are. My son’s apartment was a lot cleaner than the house I left behind at that point.
It takes a practiced eye to see the dirt. I still remember the day I really learned to wipe off the dinner table. I thought I’d done exactly that, but my mother called me back. Indeed I had gotten every crumb and obvious spill but she showed me how to lean so that the overhead light shone on the table. I had wiped, but had only smeared butter, gravy, and other assorted foodstuffs. First you wipe up the crumbs and spills, then you rinse your cloth and actually clean the table.
Experienced housekeepers know that kitchen surfaces collect greasy dirt and that any flat surface—even narrow little baseboards—collect dust. They know ceilings “grow” cobwebs and shower doors amass soap scum. They know that wiping off the top of anything isn’t even half the battle. There are sides, a bottom, and sometimes insides that need our careful attention.
Maybe it’s time to do a real housecleaning on ourselves. If you don’t know where to look for dirt, try all those places you find it so easily in others.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean. Matt 23:25,26.