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## Removing the Rocks _“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, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?” – Luke 6:41-42_ Have you ever tried to go for a walk when there is a rock in your shoe? If it is a pebble it can be very annoying and if it is a larger rock, it can be painful too. One day, a Christian woman was having great difficult moving ahead in her walk with God. When she asked Him what was the problem, He said, _“There are some rocks in your shoe.” _Since this was not literally the case, she sat down and began to think about what that might mean. Slowly, the Lord reminded her of a variety of conflicts she had encountered and her unkind reactions which had quietly begun to harden her heart. It was as if a handful of rocks were in her shoe, and she was finding little strength to glorify her Master with patient and merciful responses. It happens to all of us. The roads we walk along are dirty and filled with tensions, broken promises, and disappointments. As believers we know we should forgive, but there are three common enemies that often show up in times of distress. These three are pride, anger and self-righteousness. Scripture: _Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” -Matthew 16:24-25_ _“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” -Philippians 2:3-4_

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1 Sarah R = "This is a verse about hypocrisy. Think for a moment about the incident where Jesus is presented with a woman caught in adultery. By Jewish law that was an offense worthy of stoning, but Jesus says, "Let he without sin throw the first stone." All her accusers walked away, because they knew that they all had sin in their life. When we throw stones at others, especially at those outside of the church, not only are we hypocrites, because of the sin in our own lives, but we damage our witness and push people away from Christ. "
2 Sarah R = "A PhD out of Stanford has done various studies on forgiveness. He found that people with unforgiveness in their hearts had higher levels of stress and anger than those who do not. Unforgiveness was also linked to a shorter life span and an increased likelihood of illnesses like heart disease and high blood pressure. He concluded that forgiveness is a benefit not for the person who has wronged us, but for us ourselves, as unforgiveness can literally kill us."
3 Sarah R = "Self-righteousness says, "I'm better than THAT person, at least I've never done THAT, so I'm okay." Christians who have grown up in the church can easily fall into this trap. We may think that we barely have any sin for God to forgive! Just because some sins are more socially acceptable (little white lies, lust, gossip, angry outbursts) than others (rape, murder, child abuse), we think God sees it that way, too. We forget that to God, sin is sin, and all sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23). The Bible says, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (James 2:10). Whatever your sin is, socially acceptable or not, you need forgiveness for it. The good news of the gospel is that forgiveness is free to all who believe: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)."
4 Cary W = "In this verse is the anecdote and medicine for the temptation to be harsh or unloving toward the difficult people and situations we may find arising in our life.  Always consider others better than ourselves, that our response remain focused on the grace of God given us all, and so that we may connect with His relentless love and pursuit of all His Children."