The Sergeant's Mistake

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Sergeant Kelly looked critically at the dirty rifle and then at the private who carried it. "Smith, has all my talking been wasted?" he roared. "Clean that gun and be quick about it, or it's detention in the guardhouse for you." In a few minutes Private Smith returned from his quarters with a shiny rifle for the sergeant to inspect.
"Do you mean to tell me that you have that filthy rifle clean already?" challenged Sergeant Kelly. "Impossible!"
"No, sir," meekly replied Private Smith. "You see, sir, I picked up the wrong rifle by mistake. This one is mine."
"And who owns the other one?" pressed the sergeant.
"You, sir," was the reply.
This incident from an army camp illustrates a spiritual truth that is often forgotten. Some people overlook their own sins and shortcomings but they are quick to condemn other people for their sins. Often they condemn others for the very same sins they are guilty of themselves. For instance, the pride in a person's heart is quick to detect pride in someone else. And a man who is dishonest himself is ready to condemn others for stealing.
There is an illustration of this in the Bible. King David had sinned grievously, and Nathan the prophet came and told him about a certain rich man who had wronged a poor man. David quickly condemned the rich man and pronounced judgment on him, but Nathan said to David, "Thou art the man." David had a sense of justice, but he overlooked the fact that he himself was the guilty party. So Nathan had to say to him, "Thou art the man."
We all agree that some people we know are sinners who need to be saved, but most of us are slow to believe that we ourselves are guilty and need a Savior. However, we need to be less concerned about other people's sins, and more convinced about our own.
Before a man can enter heaven, he must face the fact that he himself is a sinner, lost and on the broad and crowded road that leads down to destruction. (Matt. 7:13.) The Word of God makes it clear that this is the true condition of every unsaved person. (John 3:18, Rom. 3.) But when you believe God's Word and confess that you are a sinner, you are then at the very spot where God can save you.