The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-charge Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

The failings of others can be annoying. Keeping a calm response can be difficult too. Our usual reaction is to be critical of those who annoy us. Even little issues can fester and become "logs" for us while the issue, in fact, is only a "speck."

Jesus in his teaching asked the question, "Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is 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 neighbor's eye.' " (Matt. 7:3-5)

Perhaps you know people who enjoy gossiping about the faults of others. The basis of their friendship may be fault finding. Complaining draws them together. The talk isn't limited to the weather, a corrupt government, or reckless teenage drivers. It can be about the juicy missteps of people they know. This "bad news" friendship can faultier, however, if the two become critical of each other. If this were to happen, the issues would probably be expressed "behind the other's back."

Our responses to "specks" and "logs" can be handled in positive ways, however. When we notice something annoying in another person, ask yourself if that sort of thing is present in your own behavior. Psychologists tell us that our faults seen in someone else are especially annoying. It's easier to criticize the "speck" in someone else's eye rather than to remove the "log" in one's own eye. A preferable response in these situations is to have compassion for the person who suffers from the same problem we know to be true for ourselves. As we work to remove the "log" in our own eye we can become better equipped to help someone else with the "speck" in their eye.

Whatever you do with "specks" and "logs," be sure to look at others and yourself with a generous heart. God desires that in loving one another we will forgive the faults in others and accept forgiveness for ourselves. Improve your vision by letting go of "specks" and "logs" with compassion rather than condemnation.