For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Matthew 7:2-5
For newcomers to my blog, a little background: I have spent the past few months reflecting on questions that Jesus asked His disciples or the crowds that followed Him. This examination has revealed that many of the questions were meant to draw the listener into a deeper relationship with Him. Jesus asks them with the purpose of calling us to come to a decision as to who He is—teacher, prophet, or Lord: He asks other questions to help us see that living under His Kingdom authority should redefine how we relate to others. If we love Him, then the follow up is— How are we loving others? I find these are often more challenging to answer.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matthew 7:3
Several years ago I was delayed at the Orlando airport. I was anxious to get home because I had to finish preparing a talk to give the next morning to my Bible study. In order to optimize my waiting time, I found a chair next to several business men and women who were absorbed in their own work. I no sooner pulled out my laptop when a family came to our area and sat down directly opposite of me. Three children, ages about two to eight, began climbing on seats, fighting over toys, crying, and running up and down the aisles. The mom and dad seemed to be oblivious. As the mom took a call on her cell phone, she told the person on the other end, in a very loud voice, about their trip—every last excruciating detail. Meanwhile, I thought, how could anyone be so insensitive to the needs of those around them? Then, my judgment went farther— Did they need to buy every single souvenir Disney World had to offer?
Shortly thereafter a young woman came to our area and sat down directly next to the woman. I wanted to warn her—flee while you can! Instead she began to engage with the children. When the mom finished her call, she shared yet again about the trip, to which the young woman graciously listened.Meanwhile, I resentfully thought, “I am getting nothing done.”
Finally, we heard the call to board. The young woman was on my flight, and, much to my relief, the family was not. As the women shared goodbyes, the mom said, “It was a wonderful trip. It was made possible by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
I looked back at the three children as they waved goodbye to their new friend. Which one of them was dying?
With tears in my eyes, I boarded the plane. Those tears washed the log out of my eyes. Who was the more selfish and self-righteous one? Certainly teaching God’s Word was an important task, but living God’s Word had to come first. The irony was not lost on me.
The context of Jesus’ question is important. His question was part of His Sermon on the Mount, teachings that He intended to be practical, probing, and help us live as He lives. The religious leaders of the day had a critical spirit and were self-righteous. They judged for the purpose of being destructive, not constructive, completely at odds with the teachings of Christ. The word “log” comes from the Greek word dokos and refers to a piece of heavy timber such as a beam used to support a roof. It is big! The speck, or in some translations, mote, derives from the Greek word karphos. It is a small dry body, such as a splinter. Some believe that it is made of the same material as the log. While Jesus is speaking in hyperbole, the point is obvious. Am I seeing a sin in another’s life that is ever more apparent in my own life? I need to be discerning and first look at what might be blinding my own vision. Before I am tempted to judge another, I need to deal with the log in my own eyes. Only then will I be able to see clearly where to extend grace and mercy. Only then will I be able to speak the truth with the same love that Jesus exhibited.