My Neighbours Dirty Laundry

My Neighbours Dirty Laundry

Monday, November 18 2019


“A young couple moves into a new neighbourhood.
The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbour hanging the wash outside to dry.
“That laundry is not very clean. She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”
Her husband looks on, remaining silent.
Every time her neighbour hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments.
A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?”
Her husband replies: “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.”  
I read this story a few years ago now, and remember thinking: “How absolutely true this is!”
How many times have I looked around at others, noticing their “dirty laundry”.
How many times have I commented on the “incorrectness” of their way of washing.
How many times have I been filled with suggestions for “better laundry soap” for their lives.
How many times have I insisted, time and time again, that they just can’t seem to get it right.
Only to discover one day that the “dirt” was not in them, but in me. On the windows of my own eyes and my own heart. What I thought was their “dirty wash” hanging out to dry, was actually the “dirty windows of my soul” needing a good cleaning!
Jesus, when He walked the earth 2000+ years ago, said much the same actually:

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye

When you have a log in your own?

How can you think of saying to your friend,

‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’

When you can’t see past the log in your own eye?


First get rid of the og in your own eye;

Then you will see well enough

to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

(Matthew 7:3-5)
Oh! It’s so easy to look superficially and to see only what meets the eye directly. What always seems to stand out the most is that worrisome and annoying “speck in our friend’s eye”, isn’t that right?
Commentator Kent Hughes said, “We find it so easy to turn a microscope on another person’s sin, but we look at ours through the wrong end of a telescope. We easily spot a speck of phoniness in another, because we have a logjam of it in our own lives. Wrath toward the speck in someone else’s life may come from the suppressed guilt over the same massive sin in our own lives. An interesting twist on this statement is that speck and plank [or log] are from the same original word, meaning they are of the same substance. In other words, Jesus was saying the reason some people are so adept at finding fault in the lives of others is because they are so familiar with it themselves. They can spot certain things in another person’s life because they are guilty of the same sin—in probably a greater capacity.” (
Jesus called these people “hypocrites”!
And another thing: aren’t we ever so skilled and ever so filled with innumerable suggestions of how to get that speck out of our friend’s eye, even offering to help ourselves.
The thing is, the problem is not the “speck in our friend’s eye” – it’s the “log” that we have in our own. The “log” that we can’t see past – the “log” that so clouds and obstructs our own vision that what seems huge to us in our friend’s life, is really a small “speck” in comparison to the actual huge “log” in our own.
The solution? “First get rid of the log in your own eye.” First, clean that dirty window of your house. First wash that dirty window of your soul. “Then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
You see, again as Jesus said:

“Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body.

When your eye is healthy,

your whole body is filled with light.

But when your eye is unhealthy,

your whole body is filled with darkness.

And if the light you think you have is actually darkness,

how deep that darkness is!”

(Matthew 6:22-23)

Wow! That’s frightening! Because I need to ask myself: is my eye healthy, or unhealthy? Does that mean that my whole body is filled with light, or with darkness? And, what if I think that I am filled with light, but I am actually filled with darkness – then, how dark and deceived I truly am!
Maybe that is why Jesus began his “speck and log parable” with these words:

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.

For you will be treated as you treat others.

The standard you use in judging

is the standard by which you will be judged.”

(Matthew 7:1-2)

Dear friends: let us be careful then, very careful, how we see and treat and judge others. Because we will be seen and treated and judged by the very same standard. Let us firstly receive God’s forgiveness and grace for the “logs” that we have in our own eyes, for the sin that we have in our own hearts – so that we might then be just as forgiving and gracious when dealing with the “specks” in the eyes and hearts of those around us.
Because maybe our neighbor’s laundry was never all that dirty to begin with. Maybe we needed to take a careful look at our windows instead. Maybe it was never the wash next door, but the windows of our souls that were needing a good cleaning!

More Reflections [+]