What does pot calling the kettle black mean?
Tea Pot calling the kettle black is an idiom that dates back to the 1600s. The phrase or a similar phrase can be found in a 1620 novel titled Don Quixote and another in 1693 titled Fruits of Solitude. During that time, most pots and kettles were made of iron and were used over open flames. The kettles or pots would turn black from the fire. This would happen to all vessels, The pot calling the kettle black, therefore, is a statement that explains someone acting in a hypocritical way. Essentially, they are seeing the fault of someone else when they possess the same characteristic themself. It is easy for us to see the faults in others and ignore our own. When we do this, we are the teapot calling the kettle black.
speck in eye log in your own
Likewise, the Bible has its own way of speaking against hypocrisy. In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus asks His audience why they look at the speck in another’s eye without first removing the log in their own. First, He is explaining that the faults of someone else should appear much smaller to us than our own. A pastor once explained to me that the speck we see in someone else’s eye is most likely the shadow of the log in our own. He even went as far as holding up 2X4 to his eye. He explained that as he looked down the beam, the end of it appeared as a small speck in front of someone else. This means we can see our own faults projected on others and quickly judge them instead of realizing the wrongdoing lies in us.
meet Tea Pot and Little Pot
Tea Pot Calling the Kettle Black (part 1)
Little Pot had told Tea Pot all about its journey to becoming a fruit pot. Each time Little Pot was given something wonderful to hold, the potter removed the items and placed them in another vessel. Tea Pot loved hearing Little Pot’s story and could imagine how sad it felt when the other vessels were given the job that Little Pot wanted. However, each time Little Pot shared its feelings, Tea Pot thought to itself, “Little Pot was selfish for not wanting the other vessels to hold what the potter gave it”.
After all, Tea Pot served the other vessels with a delicious tea. It poured the tea into other vessels almost every day. In addition, the potter regularly cleaned its insides so the tea was always fresh and tasty. It never noticed that its bottom was dirty from sitting on the fire each day.
Later, the potter had made a new kettle and was brewing something else. The kettle sat on the fire just as the teapot did. However, the aroma coming from the kettle was much stronger than any tea. The liquid was dark, earthy, and bold. The potter called this liquid coffee. The kettle poured the coffee into other vessels just as Tea Pot. The potter drank the coffee each morning instead of tea.
Tea Pot Calling the Kettle Black (part 2)
The teapot vessel noticed that the kettle was turning black from the fire. And because it was black and dirty on the outside, Tea Pot assumed it must be dirty on the inside too. It shunned the kettle and decided that it was not worthy to concoct any drink for the potter. It wanted to be the only vessel that the potter used for brewing liquid. Whenever the teapot thought the potter wasn’t listening, it would tell the kettle how black and dirty it was. It told the kettle that it was unclean and that it shouldn’t brew coffee for the potter anymore.
The kettle noticed that the teapot was also black on the bottom. However, it thought that the teapot hid the stains from the fire better. Therefore, it began to believe just what the teapot said. It felt unworthy and unloved by the other vessels. Consequently, it felt the potter did not love it too.
The all-knowing potter saw what was taking place. He grew angry at Tea Pot. The potter said, “Why do you look at the black soot on the kettle when you are also blackened from the fire?” You are being selfish and not showing the other vessels the love that I have shown you.”
Tea Pot immediately saw that it was the more selfish vessel. It had thought that Little Pot was selfish. It had thought the kettle was selfish. Then, Tea Pot realized that calling the kettle black and ignoring the dirt on itself was wrong. Seeing the other vessel’s faults before its own is sinful. Tea Pot apologized to the potter, Little Pot, and the kettle. They forgave Tea Pot and the black kettle became a friend.
become a fruit-bearing vessel like Little Pot!
Being a fruit-bearing vessel is not as easy as reading a children’s picture book. That is why Litle Pot and I have come up with a seven-step process that will allow the potter to grow love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control through you. Just put in your first name and email so we can send you those seven steps. Then you’ll get a fruitful Friday email each week with ways to be even more fruitful!