January 28 I Monday
“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?” —Matthew 7:3
It is the easiest thing in the world to judge. When Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1), He is not talking about the ability to make value judgments about a person or their actions, for this is part of our God-given critical faculty. Jesus is speaking of something condemnatory and destructive.
There is something about judging others that we enjoy. No matter how wrong it is, pulling someone else down makes us feel good. However, to want with some enthusiasm to pick out the speck in another’s eye is to advertise a plank in our own eye. We usually dislike most in others what is most true of ourselves. Greedy people do not like greedy people, selfish people are irritated by selfish people, and proud people cannot stand proud people. Whether consciously or not, people condemn others with the same fault as their own because they despise that behaviour in themselves.
Interestingly, Jesus does not teach us to take a disinterest in each other’s failings but instead to establish a priority of dealing with our own sin before attempting to help another. He explains, “...first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). This is not an obligation to rebuke a failing brother but a statement of principle that if we are going to rebuke, we must first examine our own heart.
This is about correction, not condemnation. The coward loves to condemn others for their sin and feels quite sanctimonious doing so, but it takes courage to help get a person back on track. We do not point out the speck in just anyone’s eye but in our “brother’s” eye. This is someone with whom we have an existing relationship where there is already a measure of accountability. Neither do we stop with pointing out their sin, but we help them in dealing with it. The purpose of correction is always remediation and restoration.
We must remember that we will not always be the ones correcting. Each of us will also experience times where we need to be corrected, for we all struggle with sin. To receive the rebuke and criticism of others is a mark of wisdom, yet whether the one correcting or the one being corrected, the attitude behind it remains key. There is no room in the Christian life for cruel and condemnatory judgment, but when correction is sought from a place of care and received with humility, the result is the building up of our “brother.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for when I have been wrongly critical of others. Keep me from judging, and help me look at my own heart before trying to correct. Thank You, Lord.