Jun 13, 2019

Is That A Barn Swallow?

Many years ago, I worked for a general contractor who had the habit of showing up after a subcontractor made a mistake and hadn't been able to fix it prior to his arrival.

And, most of the time, if he had not seen it, it would have been fixed by someone prior to signing off on the project. This would include everything from a ding in a wall, to wrong paint color, a poor miter cut in a piece of molding, or something not being completed on time.

And, wouldn't you know it, it would be the one thing or area that he would notice as he walked on the job site as he asked; "What happened here?", or "Who did this?"

Needless to say, it would be an embarrassment to the sub who had made the mistake and no matter what he would say, it sounded as though he was making an excuse. 

In time, we as subs found a "trick" that would help us with this problem. We discovered that the general loved wildlife; especially birds. And all we would have to do to distract him (temporarily until the repairs could be made) was to point towards something and ask; "Is that a barn swallow?"

IMMEDIATELY his attention would be focused on whatever direction we had pointed. Usually this would be followed up with a "maybe I'm wrong…" as he feverishly looked to see what we had seen. 

Usually this was enough to distract him and, because he had a short attention span, was enough to redirect him to another area so that the sub could correct the mistake...or cover it up until he could get to the repairs.

In the entertainment world, they call that "sleight of hand" which is a cleverly executed trick or deception. It takes fine motor skills and is used to entertain or manipulate. It is associated with close-up magic, card magic, card flourishing and stealing.

It also can be used to point out the faults of others in an attempt to draw attention somewhere else.

Basically it is a way of saying; "I need you to look over here so that you can't see what I am doing over there."

I have also observed it being used in the church. This includes areas such as sexual sin, addictions, or other habits. By drawing attention or pointing out something that someone else struggles with, we draw attention away from our sin(s).

Sometimes it is a way to distract others until we can deal with an area that we are struggling with. Unfortunately, it is oftentimes used because we have no intention of changing or fixing the area of sin we struggle with.

We do this by categorizing sin into sins that are "bad" or "understandable" and sins that are REALLY bad. In other words, sin we do and sin that "those people do..."

And it’s damning as it separates us from "them" and takes away any hope that their sin is even forgivable. Oftentimes this hopelessness is dealt with by legislating morality in an attempt to feel better about whatever it is that they struggle with.

But the problem is that we may be fooling others, but we are not fooling God; the One who calls sin "sin".


The Bible also tells us:
“You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because He’s such a nice God, He’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but He’s not soft. In kindness He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” (Romans 2:3-4 MSG)

The Bible also tells us that
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV)

In other words, just because we haven't done what "they" do, it levels the ground and tells us that we too have the potential of giving in to the same sin! Yes, even THAT sin!

I love how Jesus backs this scripture up by saying;
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28NKJV)

Jesus goes right to the heart and lets us know that ALL of us sin; and that He knows it and is not distracted by our attempted sleight of hand by pointing out someone else’s' sin which we deem as worse than our sin.

In other words; "...all (of us) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." (Romans 3:23 NKJV). 

And EACH of us will have to deal with our own sin and hopefully receive the gift of salvation knowing that Jesus paid for ALL of our sins. That is unless someone wants to pay for their own sin which equals an eternity in hell until it is paid off.

The main problem is that we forget (those of who have been forgiven) that we didn't fix our sin problem; Jesus did!

“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose His temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then He picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.” (Ephesians 2:1-6 MSG)

The real truth is, no matter what sin it is that is in our life, God loves you and me so much that He doesn't want to leave any of us in our sin. 

His grace is available for each of us to reach us, and change us, and to lift each of us out of our sin(s) or any situation...

IF you will turn to Jesus with all of your heart. The rest, He will give you the power and the ability to say "no" to sin through His Holy Spirit.

Rather than using sleight of hand.

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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