Judge not, that you be not judged. 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 a 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 7:1-5
As I pondered these verses, so many questions came to my mind.
- Why is it we can see the faults of others, but we can’t see our own faults?
- Who is supposed to tell me what my logs are – my kids, my husband, my parents, You God?
- And how is that done? Is there an appropriate way to show me my faults?
- Is there an appropriate way to show others their faults?
- How should I prepare myself to hear bad news about myself?
- Why do I feel the need to judge others for their faults?
- Where does humility come into play here?
- What if I perceive another person is in danger? Is it alright to tell them what their speck is?
- What if they have a “log” in their eye? Why doesn’t the Bible talk about getting a log out of other people’s lives – only specks?
- How do I get the log out of my own eye?
- Am I a hypocrite?
- Have I ever really prayed for God to show me my log?
- Do I really want to hear what He might say?
- Why does Jesus say speck and log versus specks and logs?
As you can see, these 5 verses brought a lot more questions to my mind than there are verses. And if I thought beyond the few minutes it took to come up with these questions, I could probably double the amount of questions that came quickly to the top of my head.
Pondering these verses, there are three subjects to consider: Judging others, our brother’s speck, and our own log. It is not addressing our speck or our brother’s log. While I am not a theologian, I suspect that speck and log are used in the singular vernacular because the Lord may want us to only concentrate on one speck or one log at a time. But, a theologian scholar would be best able to answer that question as my cursory research into Bible commentaries and ‘Google’ gave no answers. As for this article, the word speck and log will be used uniformly throughout. In addition, Strong’s Concordance defines a brother as a member of the same religious community, especially a fellow-Christian.
Preceding the verses about specks and logs are 2 verses about judging.
Jesus states, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”Matthew7:1-2
But, on the other hand, in Galatians 6:1-2 Jesus declares, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
These verses sound rather paradoxical, don’t they? On the one hand, we are told not to judge others, but then we are told, we should keep others accountable. What Jesus is saying is before we judge (condemn or confront) others, we must first repent and become clean ourselves.
But how are we to do it?
- After our repentance;
- After our cleansing , and
- With a spirit of gentleness.
For example, it would be very hypocritical if we tell someone not to have an affair, but we are in the midst of having one. First repent of our sin, cleanse ourselves, and then and only then might we have the opportunity to restore someone else, but only in the spirit of gentleness.
WHY WE JUDGE OTHERS
Many reasons abound as to why we enjoy judging others and take secret delight in seeing the speck (fault) in our brothers. We can blame it on human nature: the fact we like to revel in gossip, pride, or anger to name a few.
Often, when we judge others, it is a form of justifying ourselves and our own actions. A fine example of this type of justification is seen in Luke 18 between the Pharisee and the tax collector.
He [Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ Luke 18:9-13
SPECK AND LOG
“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 a log in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3-4
Different versions of the Bible call a speck a “mote” or a “speck of sawdust” while a log may be called a “beam” or a “plank.” No matter what synonymous term is used, a speck is defined along the terms of a minor fault (comparing it to something that might fly into your eye) and a log is compared to a beam which could support an entire building.
If you are like me, you might see “specks” in your children, spouse, so-called friends, bosses, co-workers, and even people you don’t know like public speakers or preachers. I even hate to admit it, but there is a newscaster who really bothers me because she tilts her head back and forth in both directions.
It is amazing what we do with our perceived faults/specks of others. Sometimes we do nothing; sometimes we hastily burst out their faults to them or to others; sometimes we hold our thoughts in and let the annoyance grow and grow; and sometimes we pray about it. And, through our meditation and Bible reading we ask the Lord what, when, if, and how God wants us to deal with another without being an unrighteous judge!!! Many times, we are just seeing a reflection of us in others and God is using that annoyance/fault/sin to show us our log.
A SPECK HURTS
Think about how you feel when you get something in your eye. Eye doctors know that even small objects in someone’s eyes can cause scratches or abrasions on a cornea. While usually just rinsing your eye can alleviate the symptoms and discomfort occasionally these small objects can cause an infection and/or possibly cause one to lose their eyesight.
Our son once experienced extreme pain in his eye. He tried driving to work, but had to turn around and come home within a mile. He couldn’t see, the pain was excruciating, and he couldn’t even keep his eye open. This eye problem became an emergency situation calling for immediate treatment. Pain, attentive parenting, excellent doctors, and medicine remedied our son’s situation in time. His eyesight was restored. Because our son was sleeping in his contacts and thus, not following the suggested “rules” for contact wearers, he put himself in harm’s way.
When we do not follow God’s Biblical “rules” set forth in the Bible, we can easily and quickly get ourselves in a position where a speck needs immediate attention. And possibly, the one who has already taken the log out of their own eye is the one to come to their rescue. If we told our son that he was responsible for his eye situation and that he put himself in this dire situation, but didn’t offer any solutions to help him, his life could have changed dramatically. This is sometimes why God will call others to confront people about their speck expeditiously – because it could be an emergency situation and God does not want our condition to worsen.
Let’s now talk about our own log. Remember, our log is like a big beam – something we have a hard time seeing ourselves. Confronting our log is painful.
Many times we don’t even think about what log we have in our own eyes. I read once that when you want to really know what log you have in your own eye, you should ask someone close to you – someone who would be totally honest with you.
So, I tried that as I was writing this article. I asked my husband if he would tell me what log I have in my life. His immediate response was, “Just one?” Not exactly what I was expecting, but as he pondered how to answer me, he couldn’t quite pinpoint what to tell me on Day 1. But, when I asked him again the next day, he gave me an answer after he prayed about it. Honestly, I was shocked at his answer. I never thought of myself in the word he described. However, I asked him with a full desire to know. Now, I have a new area to research and pray about. Hopefully, this revelation will help me to become more and more the person God wants me to be.
We usually don’t think about the log in our own eye. While I have read Matthew 7 multiple times, I am not even sure I have really thought my log until I started writing this article. Some might not want to confront your log because it might because it might cause us to change, disrupt our lives, confront our sin, and/or recognize our own pride.
PREPARE YOUR HEART FIRST THROUGH PRAYER
Praying will prepare our heart in case the Lord wants to use us to help with someone else’s speck. When we pray, we receive God’s love and grace. We will be taught to “judge righteously” in love and humility. What happens when we prepare our hearts first? Praying will help us to:
- Identify our log/sin [God will show us if we have an honest heart to know.]
- Humble ourselves [We do not want to confront with proud heart.]
- Confess the log/sin He shows us. [We want to help others with a clean heart.]
- Gain wisdom. [We will be able to discern if the Lord wants to use us to offer to a solution to their problems. It may be we are only called to pray.]
- Judge righteously. [Only help when we can see our brother’s speck through Jesus’ eyes.]
We are not perfect; but our willingness to be clean vessels for God does not go unnoticed by Him. We might be called to speak out to others about their speck, but only after the log is out of our own eyes. It is not love to criticize others and call attention to their faults without being sure our log has been laid at the feet of Jesus.
Matthew7:5 sums it up adeptly when it says, “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.”
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24ESV
Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
Dear Heavenly Father. Please give me wisdom as to when to open and close my mouth. Let me cleanse myself so I will only talk to help and edify my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let me not judge others un-righteously, but in righteousness. Allow me the opportunity to minister in love and gentleness. Show me my sins so that I can be cleansed. Let me minister to others in love and gentleness through your Holy Spirit. Take the log out of my eye, so I can be your servant to others. Amen.
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