Have you ever heard someone say this? “Sweep your own doorstep first”
This saying permeates my memories of my precious mother before she passed. She was quite bold and outspoken (much like myself) and was not afraid to tell you what you needed to hear.
This saying would be retrieved from the confines of whatever compartment of her memory she stored her witty responses, whenever I or one of her friends would be worried about the matters of someone else. When I was worried about someone else’s problems or shortcomings, she would always tell me to sweep my own doorstep first. It’s a vernacular version of the popular sliver / plank in the eye story we are familiar with in scripture. (Matthew 7:1-5 & Luke 6: 37-42)
Now, this must have been a common problem for people during Jesus’ time because the log/plank story in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels were not the only time Jesus talked about this concept of minding our own business.
But, Jesus takes an interesting approach at the end of John’s gospel. His message was along the same lines, but now it has to do with Peter’s concern (after Jesus indicated what sort of death he will experience) for how the disciple that Jesus loved would meet his end.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” – John 21: 18-22
I absolutely love Jesus’ response! What if I want him to stay alive? What concern of that is yours? You follow me! The only thing you should be worrying about Peter, is following me. Sweep your own doorstep first!
What concern is it of yours? You follow me.
As I was driving home today with my wife, I shared with her how sometimes when I am feeling distant from God or not as into my faith as I should be, I assume the same is true with her. Then, I think of ways I can help our prayer life as a couple and then I am led (by the same lie) to think that since she’s “in the same state as me”, she wouldn’t want to pursue these things I am thinking about. A vicious web of lies. As I was talking to her about this, this verse from John’s gospel and Jesus’ words came rushing to the front of my mind. What concern of it is yours? You follow me.
How often do we get all wrapped up in the spiritual lives of others? How often do we judge others’ spiritual situation based on what we think to be true about them and ‘where they should be’. What right do we have to judge them? We do not know the heart and where they are actually at. God knows the heart.
“I, the LORD, explore the mind and test the heart, Giving to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their deeds” – Jeremiah 17: 10
What business is that of ours? Not sure about you, but I haven’t received any special directions from the almighty to do his ‘dirty work'; although, sometimes I feel a ‘responsibility’ to do so. *cough* pride *cough*
So the next time we are tempted to judge someone’s faith status, how they’re doing, or tell them where they should be, let us let these words of our savior soak in to our minds and deflate our egos – “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” – and sweep our own doorsteps first. I am not disputing the fact that good old fraternal correction is necessary sometimes. But, there are some things we just don’t need to say.
After all, the only person I can change is me.
Keep the faith posers!