Sid and Barney headed out for their usual 9 holes. Sid said, "Let's make the time worth the while, at least for one of us, and bet $5 on the lowest score for the day." Barney agreed and they enjoyed a great game. After the 8th hole, Barney was ahead by one stroke, but he hit his ball into the rough on the 9th.
"Help me find my ball, you look over there," he said to Sid. After five minutes, neither had any luck, and since a lost ball carries a two-stroke penalty, Barney quietly pulled a ball from his pocket and tossed it to the ground. "I've found my ball!" he announced triumphantly.
Sid looked at him forlornly, "After all the years we've been friends, you'd cheat me in golf for a measly five bucks?!?"
"What do you mean cheat? I found my ball sitting right here!"
"And a liar, too!!!" Sid said with amazement. "I'll have you know I've been standing on your ball for the last five minutes!"
It's so easy to point a finger at others when we're guilty of sin ourselves! That was the problem with the Pharisees. It wasn't just that they judged others — because some judgment is sometimes appropriate and necessary. The problem was the kind of judgment: their anxiousness to find fault in others while taking no time to examine their own lives.
"And 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 7:3-4)
Father, help me not to focus so much on the shortcomings of others that I fail to maintain my own relationship with you. In Jesus' name, amen.