On a mission, you learn thousands of lessons that stick with you through the rest of your life.
One such lesson that I learned from my mission president was based on the New Testament account of the Last Supper. During the event, the Lord informs his disciples that before the morning, one of them would betray him. Most of us focus on Jesus’ miraculous clairvoyance and wait in suspense for Judas to be named, and in doing so, gloss over an interesting and important verse that comes in between. The disciples respond to their savior’s accusation:
And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
– Matthew 26:22
The disciple’s response to their master’s allegation that one of them would betray him was not as ours might typically be. If you were sitting around that table, would you have responded with “Is it I?” or would you have said, “Oooohh… who is it?” Would you have thumbed through the file folder in your brain labeled “People I know that might betray Jesus” or the one labeled “Stuff I’ve done that has betrayed Jesus”?
It’s natural for us to find fault with each other, but not good. Somehow we are programmed at a young age to feel that the more we can put others down, the higher we will rise. We are so worried with how well everyone else is doing that we sometimes lose sight of how we, ourselves, are doing. Sometimes we even seek to remember someone we know is struggling so that we can feel better about our own comparatively small issues.
Finger pointing often becomes a team sport. Can you imagine the Disciples breaking into a full-on Pick-a-Little-Talk-a-Little number, accusing each other of being the possible betrayer? Or the whisper campaign theorizing who the traitor would be?
But, no. Not the Disciples. Their humble response to this disturbing allegation was: Is it I?
The lesson: we need to check ourselves first. People living in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones even when they have more rocks in their hands than their neighbors. When we are being corrected or taught something, especially when we think it was intended for someone else, we should examine ourselves. When we hear about divorce, do we dwell on the couple who is struggling, or do we consider the health of our own marriage? When we hear about giving back, do we compare ourselves to the one who gives little or do we consider whether we are being generous with what we’ve been blessed with?