I’m personally more inclined to contemplate the idiosyncrasies of my own navel than to notice yours, let alone find fault with it. When I notice something – anything, my first reaction is to hit the inward search bar and examine myself for fault. Yours is yours – I’ll let you be, but mine, I hone in on.
Moments when I’m stymied about why things in life aren’t going my way, or the way I expect, the hymn I hum or the Scripture I go to is: “Search me O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Some time ago some folks on social media declared that using the exclamation, OMG, is a sin; not just a shortcoming, fault, miss-deed, or less than creative use of the language, but a sin. Interpreting the saying or writing of OMG as a sin, is based on one of the ten commandments: “do not take the name of the Lord God in vain.”
Using God’s name frivolously or with a lack of attention, is the gist of taking the name of G-d in vain. Jewish people, the original recipients of the ten tablets on Mt. Sinai, to this day do not write out the full name of God, giving scrupulous homage to this command.
I say and write, OMG (an acronym for O My God), on occasion. When I saw the social media post declaring this utterance a sin, I started thinking in overdrive – and hit the search bar.
Don’t you know, I found a bit of something in my eye, the size of something between a log and a speck.
Jesus’ words, in the Matthew 7:1-5 part of His Sermon on the Mount, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others…. Why do you see the speck that is in our brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” – is the source for the particle I spied in my eye. Jesus pleaded with us not to be speck-hunters, but to first examine the log in our own eyes.
“O my God,” might – depending on where your heart is, be a prayerful plea, albeit desperate. “O my God,” might be genuine praise for an everyday miracle such as a beautiful sunset, an animal’s extraordinary or anthropomorphic act; an expression of delight, an act of noticing someone’s extreme sense of humor, gratitude, or surprise, etc.
Speck-hunters, on the other hand, have an eagle-eye towards wrong-doing, the things they see on the outside of other human beings. Behavior might be the manifestation of what’s in the heart or it might be something else entirely. Who are we observers, to know what stimuli fosters the behaviors of others and to judge said behaviors as sin?
When, years ago, I taught Marriage and the Family courses to college students, I was particularly struck by the then, novel idea of focusing our study on healthy marriages as opposed to the usual focus on what was wrong with the family. The trend, prior to positive psychology’s genesis (1990s), was to study the dysfunctional, then back track; find the root of wrong-doing, fix it, then teach and counsel, “what not to do,” to achieve fluent families. Prior to that we took Freud’s tack of studying prostitutes in order to define healthy sexuality. Speck-hunting, for wrongdoing.
Perhaps, our speck-hunting days ought to be numbered, in favor of a logging operation. The following is a comparison of the speck-hunt with the summer camp initiation of newbies, via the snipe-hunt.
I was once the recipient of a snipe-hunt* practical joke, or prank. I’m not a fan. Frankly, I’m a rather serious person, by nature, and I’ve never witnessed a humorous prank. I inherited a dry, sarcastic sense of humor from my mom, who once said, “just because I don’t laugh out loud doesn’t mean I’m not happy.” There were not a lot of LOL’s in our household, but there was humor.
In fact, “joke” is a total misnomer, in my opinion, for a prank, because they are never truly funny; unless, by funny, one means “making fun of,” or intending to embarrass, isolate, perplex, confuse, humiliate, or make someone feel foolish – in front of a group.
Being laughed at by a group is hardly a joke. Isn’t that called bullying?
A *snipe-hunt is a practical joke originating in the1840s, wherein an unsuspecting newcomer to a group is duped into hunting for a non-existent animal (snipe) in the dark, outdoors, alone, making noise and holding a bag, until the “joke” is discovered.
There must be a kinder, more benevolent way to initiate a newcomer into a group. There is also a better way to alert people to wrong-doing and lead them to repentance; for example, goodness, kindness, and patience (Romans 2:4).
Speck-hunting is one way, but it isn’t the better way.