Shortly after moving to Japan, my dad preached his first sermon in his new church district. He titled it, "My Dirt is Better Than Your Dirt." He talked about how, when you move to a new place, you scrub everything down with bleach, getting rid of every germ you possibly can. Once you live in a house for awhile, however, the dirtiness of the cupboards or the bathrooms doesn't seem nearly as bad. As Chelsea and I have recently moved into our first new home since marrying, that sermon has come back to me several times. We scrubbed this house down from top to bottom, replaced the cupboard lining in the kitchen, bleached the shower and bathtub, and cleaned the floors until it was impossible for any germ to survive. I've noticed, however, that as time has gone on and we have grown busy, we've let the house get dirtier than it was after the initial cleaning. Yet we aren't running around the house with a bottle of bleach anymore. What makes the difference? Do we not mind our own dirt as much as someone else's simply because we're familiar with it?
We have this same phenomena in our spiritual lives. We notice the dirt in everyone else, but we tend to not even notice the dirt in ourselves. Jesus addressed this problem in His sermon on the mount by saying, "Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye" (Matthew 7:3-5). Jesus didn't say that we wouldn't still see the speck in our brother's eye. It is our job, as brothers and sisters, to keep each other accountable and help spiritually whenever we can. But let's concern ourselves first with the plank in our own eye, because honestly, is my dirt really better than yours?