A prosperous young Wall Street broker met, fell in love with and was frequently seen escorting about town a rising actress of gentility and dignity. He wanted to marry her, but being a cautious man he decided that before proposing matrimony he should have a private investigating agency check her background and present activities. After all, he reminded himself, I have both a growing fortune and my reputation to protect against a marital misadventure.
The Wall Streeter requested that the agency was not to reveal to the investigator the identity of the client requesting a report on the actress.
In due time the investigator’s report was sent to the broker. It said the actress had an unblemished past, a spotless reputation, and her friends and associates were of the best repute. “The only shadow,” added the report, “is that currently she is often seen around town in the company of a young broker of dubious business practices and principles.
I imagine that the sleuth’s report came as an unpleasant surprise to the up-and-coming businessman. Sometimes we fixate so much on policing others that we’re completely unaware of our own faults and shortcomings. In Luke 6:42, Jesus asked,
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
In this passage, Jesus used hyperbole to remind us of the importance of humility and introspection. If these qualities are absent in our lives, we may wake up one day to find that we – like the baffled Wall Street broker – have been blinded by selfrighteousness.