So, I realized that the dream was telling me that my area of growth was to focus on my own fault rather than my original focus on the fault of the woman represented by Molly cat.
Hmmm, focus on my own fault rather than the fault of the other ... where have I heard that before?
Matthew 7:1-8 (New International Version)
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
6"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
Ask, Seek, Knock
7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Well, that makes me wonder: Why is the "Golden Rule" the conclusion of this thought? I guess this idea of focusing on one's own fault and being careful not to judge makes sense if we reverse it. I would like others to be focusing on their own faults rather than mine.
Actually, it makes me very ashamed. As well as publicly criticizing "Molly Cat" (against the Matthew passage as I reviewed yesterday), and as well as focusing on the speck in my neighbor's eye (against Matthew 7:1-5), I also didn't present my criticism in a way that I would have wanted such criticism to be presented to me (against Matthew 7:12). I really should have carefully reflected on what was bothering me and the best way to explain it.
Now let's see what the other version of the speck in the brother's eye metaphor gives us:
Luke 6:37-45 (New International Version)
37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
39 He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
41 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
A Tree and Its Fruit
43 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Yes, it is all tied together again -- Not judging others, focusing on one's own faults, being able to forgive. With the hope that we may be good trees that bear good fruit.
I'm also thinking of the Lord's Prayer. The whole thing is a request to God except that there is one bit that refers to our own behavior -- "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive the trespasses of others."
(Digression regarding my cats trespassing on the table and my desk. They never learn, really. Over and over, it seems to have become a game for them. And lately I have been suspecting that it isn't really about the warmth at all. I have begun to suspect that I don't give my cats enough attention. And bad attention is better than no attention. It is very hard not to forgive them when I think it is just that they are trying to get me to pay attention to them. So I have decided that I am not going to be so harsh in enforcing the boundary with my cats. I will still enforce the boundary. But I am not going to be so harsh anymore.)
Well, based on my reflections on my dream that brought me to Matthew 18:15-17, I did write apology letters. And based on my further reflections, I did ask for forgiveness and to be restored to relationship. And I did suggest a way of atonement. So, I am pretty resolved that I have taken all the appropriate actions from my side.
Now I am thinking of another quote from Matthew, the one about trying to resolve one's differences with the person, before asking forgiveness from God.
Matthew 5:21-24 (New International Version)
21"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother[b]will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,[c]' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
1. Matthew 5:21 Exodus 20:13
2. Matthew 5:22 Some manuscripts brother without cause
3. Matthew 5:22 An Aramaic term of contempt
Well, I've attempted reconciliation in a variety of ways. And I am now in a position to give it to God.