And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Luke 6:41
Young kids are well-known for their desire put themselves first. When the time comes for nursery workers to hand out a snack, their number one thought is, “Me first!” Many times, they verbalize their thought. As they get a little older, they are willing to claw and fight, shove and push to make sure they are first in line. If someone cuts in front of them, they have no problem snitching on a friend. “Teacher,” they whine, “he cut in front of me.” Even older kids want the biggest piece of cake or the larger half of a shared cookie. It all sounds so trivial, but at some point, almost every one of us did it. Though there could certainly be some lessons taught against selfishness here, maybe their idea of “me first” isn’t such a bad one – if it is used in the right context.
Looking at the way someone else acts and criticizing him is an easy thing to do. It is so easy to see the flaws in others, yet it is quite difficult to see our own. Some of the young men who are the quickest to point out where someone else has failed often have the biggest flaws themselves. Perhaps they are pointing out others’ sins or failures because they are trying to draw attention away from their own, but it often has the opposite effect. The more a young man pinpoints other people’s problems, the more his are scrutinized, and the worse he looks. As the Bible reminds us in Luke 6, he is identifying the mote in his friend’s eye, while ignoring the giant beam in his own. Everyone can see it but him.
Someone once said, “Don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you do.” His point was that all of us have sins we have committed, all of us have flaws, and all of us have to fight daily against our flesh. If we would spend time looking at our own problems first, we wouldn’t have much time left to criticize the problems in others. Besides that, the chances that you know about the entire situation surrounding a person’s choices are so small that your judgment of them is clouded from the beginning. If you were to try to understand that person rather than undermine them, you might find you have a heart of compassion for them rather than lips full of criticism.
Kids would do well to stop trying to put themselves first, but we would do well to start thinking of ourselves first – starting with our problems.