Monday, June 23, 2008

The speck and the log (Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:41-42)

The parable of the speck and the log

Scripture
“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."
Matthew 7:1-5 (Also Luke 6:41-42)

Observations
* This parable was told as part of a larger sermon, in which Jesus was teaching His followers how to live their lives.
* The parable starts with a statement about what the parable is about. A lot of Jesus' parables end with the meaning, or sometimes go without Him giving the meaning. Here he gives the command, and embelishes with the parable to explain His point.
* The command "do not judge" is followed by a warning "or you will be judged".
* According to the Strongs interpretation the word for "judge" means to to "...separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose..."
* Jesus explains what type of judging he is talking about through the parable "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?" He is talking about the hypocritical type of judging that points out wrong in others lives and ignores the wrongs in own life.
* The parable ends with the person who has removed the "plank" in their own eye able to help their "brother".

Discussion
A lot of people use this passage of scripture to try and argue that it is wrong to make a moral judgement about the way that other people live. This is a wrong view of this parable. Other places in the Bible (and even a few verses later in Matthew 7:15-20) we are taught that we need to be able to evaluate and consider what God approves of. How can people recognise their sin in order to be saved from their sin, if they aren't told that what it is they do that is sinful. Critical and reflective thinking are important in order to help other people. Jesus is talking about a different type of judging in this parable.

This parable speaks against the type of judgemental attitudes that try to make others look like less than we are by pointing out their flaws without acknowledging our own. It tells us not to be hypocrites and to judge ourselves first, lest we deserve the same criticism we have for others. This is a section of God's church which ignores this commandment to not be hypocritical. When we judge ourselves, we recognise we are sinful and our approach to others sin is with love and humility because we identify with them. If we deal the "plank in our eye" (the sin in our lives), we are then able to help others with the "speck in their eyes" (their sin) by pointing them to the solution that is needed by both parties.

It is important to note the "then you will" in verse five. This shows that it is appropriate and permissable to judge with love, but only after we have acknowledged and fixed our own mess.

Application

Basically the parable teaches us not to be a mean prick, or an arrogant bastard in the way we relate to other people about their sin! Lets acknowledge our own imperfections and sin and not be hypocrites. If we acknowledge these things then we will be humbling ourselves before God and able to recieve His love and grace. This will then give us authority to judge but we will do it with humility and love towards that person.

Prayer

God help me to see myself and my condition as you see me. Don't let me take for granted that I have sinned, but help me to see my sin for what it is. It is only by your grace that I am able to stand, without You I am no different to anybody else in the sin department. I relate to sinners because I know what it is like to be one. Now help me to help other people remove the speck from their eye by showing them the way to Jesus with love, passion and humility.

4 comments:

beka said...

Jesus really didn't like hypocrites. Me either. I totally agree with your observations. I think that we in our day and age can better understand the concept if we use two different words, observations and judgements. Observations can change and can be made in love and humility. Judgement is final, critical and the only one fit to make judgements about another person is someone who isn't in sin. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". But that's saying pretty much the same thing as you have already said.

miss_coz said...

i think if everyone took on this verse and applied it to their spiritual journey, we would find ourselves in a much different church. The focus would shift from 'saving others from their sin' to a life-filled bunch of dudes who are ready to help the other dudes in their journeys.

tiwassie said...

Ahhh, the paradox.
We must acknowledge that we have logs in our eyes, and that usually others have specks, yet we must be discerning also, judging what we see and know.

Is it actually hypocritical if we judge something we see that is ungodly? Is it hypocritical to accept wrong things so that we don't judge, because we have a log in our eye?

I guess, we need to acknowledge that we have problems, as we work out what needs to be said/done/not said/done when dealing with others, in humility. We are made of the same clay.

Some let anything into the church's life, because they don't want to be critical (and usually end up doing nothing much of significance), others allow no room for the radical, those who display sins (which are usually in all churches, just hidden) or who don't follow their version of the code.

Wisdom, grace, strength and humility with God's assistance works.

nickflight said...

Hey guys, I thought I'd add a comment and post someone elses comment for them. They couldn't get the comment thing working. A few people emailed me about this and I accidently deleted their emails. If you want to add your comments and can't get it working let me know and I'll try and do it (my email is nickflight at hotmail dot com).

Here are SF from Burnie's comments-
Couldn't post the comment on the blog page- I'm still a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to blogging- I dont have a google "thingy" and i couldn't get the open thingy to work for me- so i thought I would send back by e-mail my thoughts here they are:
Hey Nick, just read through your thoughts on the parables- good stuff- Since God is the final judge, which as you rightly point out is the context of the parable, the ultimate sentence (or reward) belongs to him. I do think that the verse about "not judging others" is a throw away line that a lot of people use to deflect challenge> The scriptures don't discount us pointing out the speck in our brothers eye for there are things in all our lives that we can be blind too- it does tell us to remove the log- or those things we see in ourselves first. Keep up the good work