Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” – Romans 2:1 (ESV)
Yesterday, I went to the library and picked up C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. For some reason I feel like I’m one of the few people who hasn’t read this yet. Over the last month or so, I’ve read about Lewis’ works, but haven’t read anything by him yet. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book and really enjoy it so far. Lewis uses simple and clear analogies to make his points in a way that makes you say, “hey, I never thought of it like that before”.
One chapter in the book is titled “The Three Parts of Morality”. Lewis describes these on page 75:
“It seems, then, that if we are to think about morality, we must think of all three departments: relations between man and man: things inside each man: and relations between man and the power that made him.”
Lewis explains that the first part deals with “fair play and harmony between individuals”. The second part is “what might be called tidying up or harmonizing the things inside each individual”. It’s that second part that Lewis describes that got me thinking today and looking back at some of the posts I’ve written here, especially in the last month or so. I’m not that pleased with myself. I’ve taken the time to talk about what I think is bad behavior (Black Friday) or wrong behavior (those mistress greeting cards) in other people, when I really should be looking at myself. What are my motives ? What selfish behavior do I need to change ? Am I really ready to ask, as David did in Psalm 26:2 (NIV), to “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind” ?
Lewis makes it clear and understands that perfect behavior is difficult to strive for. But he also is clear that we still should, as it’s a “necessary ideal”. It becomes too easy to slip up here and there and make excuses, which creates bigger problems down the road. Lewis compares it to a large math problem, and how if we’re inaccurate in the early steps of the problem, we pay for it later on, “…in the same way every moral failure is going to cause trouble, probably to others and certainly to yourself.” (p. 71)
Today Lewis grabbed my arm – the one with the spotlight pointed everywhere else – and turned it back towards me. I’m glad he did. I’m sure I’m still going to comment on things that bug me, but the focus should be on my own sinful behavior, where it belongs. I needed that reminder.
I look forward to the rest of this book.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)