In an attempt to be holy, some seek a degree in Spiritual Ophthalmology—and the tuition is cheapest at the Splinter Picker College. Graduates of this college feel they are righteous as long as they can help humanity by picking splinters out of other people’s eyes. The fact is, they should have attended the Big Beam School of Logging, where they would have learned about their own need for spiritual ophthalmology. It takes some dexterity but not much strength to lift a splinter. It takes a great deal more strength—and skill—if one has been impaled with a log.
Many experts in fault-finding or splinter-picking feel like they are helping others—while in fact they are often doing nothing more than damage. Fault-finders say they want to heal and improve things. They want things done the right way, the godly way. However they don’t have the finesse to pick splinters nor the strength to move logs. Expert faultfinders are rarely better than those they criticize and are generally impotent to do much except make other people feel bad. Fault-finding in the extreme can destroy almost anything, but the first things that it kills are joy and enthusiasm.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate what I call the stained glass syndrome.” A certain lady attended a church her entire life. She often sat in the pew and thought how wonderful it would be if the church had a beautiful stained glass window to let in some light. She would daydream about which biblical scene would gladden the hearts of the fellow worshippers. Before she died, she left a bequest to furnish her church with the big beautiful stained glass window she had pictured for so many years.
Some of the church members were excited, but others fretted. Among the fretters, some talked about how the money could be used for missions and others talked about how the money could be used to feed the poor. Several had ideas on how to better spend the money but since it was a bequest, the executor of the lady’s estate said it was a stained glass window or nothing. So they installed the window according to the benefactor’s specifications.
The window was a bright and beautiful depiction of the Savior welcoming the children. The quality of craftsmanship was impeccable. The beauty with which the idea was carried out was exquisite, almost beyond description. The stained glass window made the sanctuary brighter and cheerier than ever before. Yet those who had mumbled and grumbled before the window was installed did not seem to enjoy the brightness.
Because the window was so beautiful, many people visited the church just to see this splendid work of art. Some stayed and worshiped, and some believed. The minister was delighted to find his hands full with teaching new Christians about the faith. But some felt that the church had become too worldly by having something so beautiful that unsaved people would come to look at it. And as for the new believers, well, they were viewed by some as invaders who didn’t talk, act or dress like church members should—not to mention the fact that they took up an awful lot of the minister’s time and attention.
So one day a committee of “doctors,” that is, self-appointed spiritual ophthalmologists, decided to do something about it. They called a church business meeting to discuss removing the window. They couldn’t get the church people excited against the stained glass window, so one night, they did the only thing possible to save their church. They came with hammers and broke out every shard of the beautiful window until not one piece of glass was left in the frame. They were not as good at putting in windows as they were at breaking them out. They did put up some plywood to keep the rain out and reasoned that when they obtained some money they would have it replaced professionally with a proper, plain window.
The next Sunday people gasped as they entered the darkened sanctuary and saw cheap plywood where there had once been a beautiful stained glass window. Those who had broken the window were quick to take credit as they explained to the rest of the church how they had done this for the good of all.
Many people left, shocked at the violent way that a small group had forced their views on the rest of the church. With the smaller congregation, offerings were down and there didn’t seem to be the money or the will to replace the window. With so little light entering the sanctuary, many people had trouble reading their Bibles. Frustration led to more departures and the eventual closing of the church—which later became a furniture store.
This parable has a sad ending, but happy are the people who learn from sad experiences that it is best to leave spiritual ophthalmology to God.