Physician, Heal Yourself
Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Physician, heal yourself.” Luke 4:23
The bitter irony of a physician living in addiction, while trying to tell others how to live, isn’t lost on me. When I thought about it, my hypocrisy was a monstrosity, so, I didn’t think about it. As it turns out, focusing on other people’s problems was a good distraction from my own mess. I was like the overweight, out-of-shape doctor telling his patients to eat better and exercise. I knew what was better for everyone else because I had a medical degree, not because I was living it.
When my addiction became public, I’m sure there were many who thought, He told me I needed to stop drinking while he was using? Are you kidding me? What a hypocrite! Perhaps I did do some good in that condition, but what I really needed, was to find recovery. As a physician, if I want to help others live a healthy lifestyle, I needed to not be pursuing a destructive one myself.
In today’s passage, Jesus quoted this apparently well-known proverb to his audience. Physician, heal yourself. The saying doesn’t mean that we’re on our own to fix ourselves. Rather, it’s meant to shine a spotlight on our duplicity.
So often, we find comfort in focusing on those things with which we don’t struggle. I may have an anger problem but at least I don’t gamble like that guy . . . Sure, I may look at porn now and then, but at least I’m not a drug addict . . . It’s easy to look down on someone else’s sin, which makes us feel better about our own. Today’s proverb though exposes this hypocrisy. Before we point out the failures of others, we must humbly acknowledge and address our own.
This doesn’t mean I must be perfect to be a good physician or Christian. It does mean though, that I shouldn’t be living enslaved to a drug while telling others to find sobriety. I shouldn’t be addicted to pornography, while telling others to abandon themselves to follow Christ. I’m not going to be perfect in this life, but if I truly desire to help others, I must humbly admit my own faults, continually dragging them before God, allowing him to transform me.
In focusing on the sins we don’t struggle with, we’re hypocrites. In humbly addressing our own faults, we can truly be of service to others.