Josie was at a loss. “Why in the world would anyone hang dirty laundry out to dry?” she asked herself. The tone in Josie’s voice reflected the disgust she felt in her heart. She leaned on her kitchen table and stared through the large window for another moment. With the condescending eye of a drill sergeant, Josie inspected the sheets, the underwear, the shirts, and the socks that Mrs. White was hanging on her clothesline.Josie spoke again, this time in a voice that was curt and sarcastic. “Surely that woman forgot to use laundry detergent! Doesn’t she notice the spots and smudges left on the fabric? I would never . . . .” Josie let the words trail off as she busied herself in her kitchen.
At forty-two, Josie Briggs was . . . shall we say . . . proper. Everything about her was perfectly ordered. Her soft white skin was wrapped tight over a lean figure. Although not athletic, her body was toned, the results of a careful diet combined with the exercise of maintaining the family garden. Josie’s hair was neatly pulled into a bun atop her head. Her dress was clean and pressed. Her eyes were clear and sharp. Her movements were disciplined and quick—but her heart was calloused and hard.
Josie often looked through her window into Mrs. White’s life. She had become an inspector of sorts. She examined Mrs. White’s yard, her automobile, her children, the garden she kept, and the parties she held in the backyard. No one asked her to do this; Josie took this task upon herself. Her examinations were private and the reports were tucked away in the filing cabinet of her heart. The more she looked, however, the more she became convinced that Mrs. White was not passing the inspection.
Josie lowered herself into a seat at the kitchen table. Once again she gazed through her window at the other woman laboring to get the dirty clothes hung out on the line. She watched the laundry rock back and forth in the gentle breeze. To Josie it seemed that even the clothesline wanted to shake itself free of Mrs. White’s work. Josie felt a tinge of pity for her neighbor, but it was quickly replaced with indignation. “The poor woman simply cannot see how filthy her laundry is!” she thought.
Finally, it was too much. Josie rose from her seat. She was determined to correct the problem. “Sometimes the truth hurts,” she thought. “If Mrs. White is embarrassed, it will be short-lived and for the best. Besides, am I one to hang onto a bad opinion?”
Josie moved to the window, opened it wide, started to speak and then stopped. The smudges were gone. The clothes were perfectly clean. In fact, they were spotless. Josie was momentarily dumbfounded and then she realized – the spots were her own. The smudges were not on the clothes, but on her window.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your bother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5 ESV)