In Focus Magazine

Thought for the Month

As we move through Lent, it seems to me that we have an opportunity to learn a lot about ourselves. Taking the time to reflect more deeply on the 10 Commandments or ‘Words’ from God will undoubtedly help us.

Paul Coelho suggests this story to help us think about this: A young couple moved into a new town. The next morning while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her new neighbour hanging the washing outside. “That laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better washing powder.” Her husband looked on, remaining silent.

Every time her neighbour hung her washing out to dry, the young woman made the same comments. A month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?” The husband replied, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

And so it is with life…what we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look. So, don’t be too quick to judge others, especially if your perspective of life is clouded by anger, jealousy, negativity or unfulfilled desires. “Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.”

As we learn more about who we are, the more we can ask Jesus to help us to become more like him. The 10 Commandments are the beginning of Israel’s ‘Rule of Life’, the kind of scaffolding that is going to help them live the very best life they can live together and with God. Scaffolding is used in two ways, firstly to build a new building and secondly, when there is a need to repair a building. Perhaps you have your own ‘Rule’ already, the kind of everyday ideas and practices that help you live your life well, so that you are always looking through clean windows!

If you haven’t, take the chance to listen to the scaffolding God put in place for the Israelites, and that Jesus encouraged and developed in his teaching too. Or maybe you need some re-scaffolding at the moment as life is difficult and stressful. Whichever it may be, take courage in both hands this Lent to build some scaffolding – I suspect you’ll be very glad you did!

Sue Willetts