Today I want to venture into Matthew 7. Jesus is giving the sermon on the mount and this is the closing part of that sermon. As I’ve mentioned several times it’s important to see this entire sermon (Matthew 5-7) as one line of thought, building on itself. But we are pulling some truths out of it a piece at a time, which is also helpful.
In the opening of Matthew 7 Jesus is talking about the idea of judging others. Here is what He says
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Now this might be one of the most misused scriptures in the bible. People say this is Jesus saying that you should make no judgements. But as we’ll see this is not the main idea here.
The first paragraph brings up a great point. That is, how you judge others will be how you are judged. In other words think about how you want to be judged. It’s not that Jesus is saying never judge between right and wrong. What He is saying is don’t sit in self righteous judgement over another.
Really this comes down to having love in our hearts towards others. We love in our culture to judge others with self righteousness in our hearts. We are so much better than those people that support the other candidate. We are so much better than those people that attend that other church. We are so much better than the people that came before us.
We judge, call people names, and blame the “other” for all of our problems. We are the good guys. “They” are the bad guys. If one of them is even accused of wrongdoing it must be true and they should be canceled. If one of our side is accused, or certainly if we are accused, well then we should wait for all the facts. If we do admit wrong it’s for some theoretical wrong so that we can virtue signal about it so that somehow we still come out looking righteous. It all makes me sick to be honest.
The self righteous person is the most dangerous person in the room. Read that again!
The point is to realize that I am the problem. I am the first, and main, sinner that I need to deal with. Not the government, not the church, not the people group I’m not a part of, not the “oppressor”, not the other gender . . . ME.
This leads to the second paragraph. Jesus says how can you possibly help your friend when your own self righteousness is in the way? The point is that you can’t. Not only are you screwing up yourself even more, you’re actually incapable of helping your brother. And there in lies the final point: We actually are supposed to be able to help our brother with the speck in their eye.
This is another way this verse gets misused. That is there is the idea that I should never talk to or confront the speck in our brother’s eye. That is not what Jesus says. What He says, as in it plainly says, is this: only if you see your own sin are you able to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
This is because to help another is surgical and exact. It isn’t quick or sudden. It is strategic. Jesus is so brilliant. Think about taking a speck out of someone else’s eye. You have to be exact, gentle, yet firm. If done carelessly you could injure them more and in fact not even get the speck. You have to be clear eyed and focused. Any other way and you won’t be of any help and in fact you will probably injure them and they will leave worse than before.
You can’t help your brother with online posts, or broad shaming statements or passive aggressive comments. You can’t help your brother with the plank of self righteousness in your own eye. It doesn’t work. It’s not working. It’s making it worse. Every.Single.Time.
Taking the speck out happens with relationship and trust. It happens one on one. It happens when we have love in our heart toward the person we are talking to.
Here’s the challenge to all of us. What is in your heart towards those that you want to help with the speck in their eye? Where is your own plank in the way? Who are you actually helping? Are you actually making it worse or helping them see clearly?