Before You Accuse Me
"Before you accuse me, take
a look at yourself . . ."
Before You Accuse Me was written by Ellas McDaniel a.k.a Bo Diddley. It first appeared on the rock and roll icon’s self-titled debut album in 1958.
Creedence Clearwater Revival popularized it by including it on their 1970 Cosmo's Factory, which is the version that captured me.
Eric Clapton recorded the tune electric for 1989’s Journeyman effort, and then did it acoustic on the MTV Unplugged series, which was released in 1992 on Unplugged.
It is a staple in the blues repertoire. Bar bands learn its guitar licks and growl the old familiar words.
The song has universal appeal—have you ever noticed how often the lyrics prove true?
It is so simple for us to see the other person’s faults and failures. Our common inclination it to turn a blind eye on our shortcomings—we have a remarkable ability to look past the face reflecting back at us in the mirror.
Not only can we identify the mistakes or imperfections of everyone else, we also tend to stir the pot with disparaging observations.
We can cause considerable harm by launching words like fast bullets fired in a flash. Our accuracy is usually quite good. When we get into hypercritical mode we can make our accusations fly straight to the heart, inflicting wounds that require a long time to heal.
We seldom comprehend the power our words contain; power to build up or power to tear down. The choice is always within our grasp.
We can have a positive or negative impact on those we rub shoulders with every day. Simply the words and tone of voice we chose to use can influence lives.
"Don't pick on people, jump
on their failures, criticize
their faults--unless, of
course, you want the same
treatment. That critical
spirit has a way of
bommerranging. It's easy
to see a smudge on your
neighbor's face and be
oblivious to the ugly
sneer on your own." ~Jesus of Nazareth~
Do we routinely see the flaws in others that we most dislike within ourselves?
Foibles & Contradictions
Have we all forgotten that friend or mentor in our past that always had wisdom and reassurance to prod us along? We should each come alongside someone experiencing a tough time and be a cheerleader.
Or we can sit in the stands to gossip between derisive shouts. Unfortunately, in today’s climate the typical response is to cluster on the sidelines in sanctimonious glee.
The problem is that no one ever achieves perfection in this lifetime. We are all works in progress. Some of us are undergoing demolition and restructuring, while others are being remodeled or redecorated. We are all at various stages of the process.
Our interpersonal exchanges would be so much sweeter if we would all give each other the latitude we desire to receive. The decency of our culture would also be cranked up a notch.
Instead of embracing our humanity, we often pretend that we have no weaknesses at all. We buzz along in a state of constant denial, claiming to be above the fray.
Others may have difficulties, but not us. We will not slam up against the stress-points of life. There will be none of that for us. No chance. We’ve got life all figured out and are having no struggles. We're self-sufficient and doing just dandy, thank you very much.
Actually there is an ancient phrase to encompass that attitude—loosely translated into contemporary English it reads: Horse Manure. If honesty prevailed in a self-evaluation exercise, we would each admit to being overwhelmed by our foibles and contradictions.
Often we recognize the flaws in others that we most dislike within ourselves. And since it is easier to cast stones at others than invest the effort necessary to make adjustments or changes in our personal lives, we become adept at lobbing stones.
The Apostle John records a fascinating account where Jesus of Nazareth was asked to pass judgment on a woman engaged in sexual promiscuity.
The religious elite of Israel—the teachers of the law and the Pharisees—were anxious to make a case against Jesus. They brought a woman “caught in adultery” to him and in accordance with the Law of Moses, demanded that he condemn her to death.
It was a trick to trap Jesus. If he released her he would be in violation of the Law; if he blessed the execution, he’d be turned over to the Roman authorities.
Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger. Did he list the secret sins of those clamoring for the woman’s death? We really do not know, but when he stood up, Jesus said: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
The mob was primed to stone her. Before you accuse her, take a look at yourself.
Eyes darted furtively back and forth. One by one, those surrounding the woman caught glimpses of their inner self. Without verbally acknowledging the error of their ways, the crowd dispersed.
The woman was left alone to receive the full measure of Christ’s verdict: “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
If only we could develop that expression of grace in all our day to day encounters.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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