By Alan Smith
The following is a true story (though there are some questions about a few of the details). Back in 1893, there was a group of four sisters in Iowa. They called themselves the Cherry Sisters and made their stage debut in Cedar Rapids in a skit they wrote themselves. It was terrible. But, for three years, the Cherry Sisters performed to packed theaters throughout the Midwest. People came to see them to find out if they were as bad as they had heard! Their unbelievably atrocious acting enraged critics and provoked the audience to throw vegetables at the would-be actresses. Wisely, the sisters thought it best to travel with an iron screen which they would erect in front of the stage in self-defense.
Amazingly, in 1896 the girls were offered a thousand dollars a week to perform on Broadway -- not because they were so good, but because they were so unbelievably bad. Seven years later, after the Cherry Sisters had earned what in that day was a respectable fortune of $200,000, they retired from the stage for the peaceful life back on the farm. Oddly enough, these successful Broadway "stars" remained convinced to the end that they were truly the most talented actresses ever to grace the American stage. They never had a clue as to how bad they truly were! They naively believed that the tossed vegetables were either unrestrained tributes to their talent or acts of jealousy by less talented people.
How could they be so blind? I find it all too easy to understand. The truth is, like everyone else, I am blind to many of my shortcomings. I fail to recognize that I have a problem with impatience or lack of compassion or pride. Don't get me wrong -- I have no trouble seeing those faults (and many more as well!) in the lives of people around me. I can readily see how sinful everyone else is. But even when people "toss vegetables" at me, I still insist there's no problem with me.
Jesus had something to say about this to the Pharisees (and of course it's easy for me to sin how sinful THEY were!):
"Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:3-4)
God, please open my eyes to those things in my life which displease You and keep me from being close to You and others around me. In my times of blindness, help me to see. In Jesus' name, amen.
Have a great day!
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Cruciform Church of Christ in Spring Lake, North Carolina, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the congregation's website.