Matthew 7:1-6 — Jesus Gets Personal With Each One of Us — The Log in Our Own Eyes vs. The Speck In Yours

Posted: October 27, 2015 in 40-Gospel of Matthew

Chapter 7
Matthew 7:1-6
Judging Others

It is what I call God’s synchronicity. It is when He teaches me the same message from multiple, different, and unrelated sources. That way I know that He is sending a message to me. When you hear a message from one person or one bible passage, you can say OK well that’s a nice thought and move on. But when you hear the same message from people who do not know each other or you hear a sermon and then the next Bible passage you read in a different part of the Bible and get the same message. You go “whoa! Maybe, God is trying to tell me something that I need to know right now.” This past Sunday, we had a guest pastor deliver the sermon. One of the things that He said that stuck in my head was that “we judge others by their actions and we judge ourselves by our intentions.” Now, whoa, here we are today moving into a passage about judging others. So, there is a message in here for me in God’s synchronicity and maybe there’s one in here for you, too!

Now, it is no coincidence that our Christian forefathers segregated the New Testament in to chapters and verses such that it makes the next passage for us to study the beginning of Chapter 7. In Chapter 6 of Matthew, Jesus is speaking broadly to all of us. In Chapter 7, though, Jesus is going to get specifically personal with us here. He is going to put the mirror in front of our own faces. It’s no longer a conceptual model. It’s personal. It’s about me. It’s about you.

Let’s get into it. Jesus begins this chapter by saying,

“1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “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? 4 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? 5 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.

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

This passage should be analyzed for what it is saying and what it is not saying. The first thing that we will look at is what it is not saying. I think one of the great misconceptions about this famous Biblical passage is that people have interpreted it to me that we should never criticize another person in any way. I do not think that Jesus meant that we could never speak into another person’s life in loving concern. I think that Jesus wants us to be able to hold each other accountable for our actions.

However, speaking into someone’s life should be done in loving concern, not out of injured pride, not out of jealousy, or other negative reactions. For example, a parent can and should speak into their children’s lives when that child is being disobedient at a young age, or that child, as an adult, is about to make a mistake the parent has already made at the same age. In those instances, say with a young child, a parent is requiring discipline of a child which is something a child must learn to function well in society later in life. Trying to prevent your adult child from making the same stupid mistakes that you made at the same age is not being hypocritical but rather sharing the wisdom of experience (when it is shared in love). The same is true outside your family, if a dear friend is traveling the wrong path and you sincerely do not want to see them destroy themselves. Then, speaking into their life totally from the point of view of love is a concept that Jesus has no issue with. As Christ followers, Jesus expects us to help one another in love through the sharing of wisdom and experiences so that others won’t have to go through the pain and agony of a mistake like we did. That is not hypocrisy. That is humble admission of sharing “this is how I screwed up, please don’t do the same.” There is a huge difference!

Now, let’s look at what Jesus IS directly saying here. It, of course, is blatantly obvious. He is speaking of hypocrisy. Etymologically, a hypocrite is someone who is ‘playing a part’, merely pretending. The word comes from the late Latin hypocrite which is derived from the Greek, hupokritēs, ‘actor, hypocrite’. Thus, Jesus is talking about playing the part of someone who is clean of sin and criticizing others when in fact that person has the same sin or similar sin ongoing in their own life. The imagery used here by Jesus is fantastic. We have all had a speck in our eyes before and we can immediately identify with how irritating that can be. Imagine then having a log in your eye! Kind of funny to think of! Jesus is using exaggerated imagery here just has he has done throughout this Sermon on the Mount. The exaggerated imagery is meant to catch our attention. It was meant to get the people who were there at the Mount to turn and take notice.

This imagery is to illustrate what Jesus wants us to hear. Jesus is talking about us proclaiming publicly that we are one thing but that when we are in private we are something. Jesus is talking about criticizing others for sins that we see in their lives but yet we have unconfessed sins in our lives that we are continuing to commit. It’s like criticizing someone for lusting after a woman when you have Penthouse magazines under your bed. It’s like criticizing someone for being an alcoholic but you just spent the weekend at the beach getting plowed. It’s like being a preacher who stands in the pulpit and preaches to us about how we should be better at loving one another while at the same time who has not been home to see his parents or brothers in decades. One of my uncles was like that. On a trivial scale, it is like criticizing the success of your favorite team’s archrival while you are in tied for last place in your division in your own team’s conference. It is like speaking out against adultery when you are secretly having an affair. It is like speaking out against those who steal while at the same time taking things from work for your own use when no one is looking. It is saying one thing and your actions showing that you are committing the very sin of which you criticized others. As we said before, Jesus wants us to hold each other accountable; however, it must be done in love and it must be done from a standpoint where we have confessed our own sins and are no longer committing those sins. It is only through humility that we can offer heartfelt loving advice to others. Thus, Jesus wants to be able to constructively talk to one another in love. We must have a clear heart to do so. Isn’t that what makes Alcoholics Anonymous so effective. When a recovering alcoholic speaks into a practicing alcoholic’s life, he actually does have credibility. He is able to tell the practicing alcoholic, “this is what happened to me when I did what you are doing. I am not doing it anymore, but these are the things that I experienced when I did.” He can say, “hey bud, I know for a fact that you are going down the wrong road….I took that road myself and it does not end well. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt!”

Well, Mark, are you saying that I cannot speak into someone else’s life unless I have committed that same sin, recognized it, and turned away from it? No, that’s not it at all. What I am saying is that we should examine ourselves before we speak correction into someone’s life. If we are harboring sin in our own lives, we must first consider our own sin before we consider the sins of others. If you are going to speak truth into someone’s life, be honest with them about the sin(s) that you are dealing with. Or deal with your own sin and then speak to them. It is like holding a grudge against your wife for not being as romantic as she used to be but yet at the same time you barely recognize that she exists when you get home. You used to kiss her when you got home but now you go straight to your shop, or go straight to the recliner and turn on ESPN. Wives complain about their husbands in the same way but yet do not do any of the things that they did to attract him in the first place. Sure, romance that comes from passion cools over time. However, that’s when we need to be the most intentional about giving our spouses what they need. We mistake passion for love and give up and it may lead us to marital sin. Sometimes when we complain about what others are doing or not doing, maybe we should examine ourselves before we proceed. Too many marriages break up because we want to throw our spouse under the bus but yet we fail to examine our own failings in making the marriage what it is.

Then at the end of the passage, Jesus says something that does not seem to fit with the rest of what is said when you read this passage for the first time. It almost seems that Matthew looked back through his collection of Jesus’s sayings that he wrote down and just threw this one in at the end of this passage. However, as with all God-breathed and human written Scripture, nothing is ever out of place. Nothing is disjointed. It is through prayer, meditation, and research that we learn more about the Scriptures. When you look at this passage from the sense that Jesus is saying that not only that we should not be hypocritical but that we can speak into other people’s lives but it has to be done in love, then this final verse does really make sense.

When Jesus says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces,” I think Jesus is saying that there are going to be times, even when you speak into someone’s life in love, you will not be heard because a person is not ready to hear what is being said. In a lot of cases such as this, the hearer will actually turn against you verbally and sometimes even physically. Usually those who protest against advice in anger are those that want to protect their sin and continuing participating in it. We see in the broader today with an easy example. Why is that that it takes reams of paper in magazines, court cases, editorials and constant bludgeoning of us by the media that certain sexual lifestyles are OK, but, yet, God’s plan for sex in traditional marriage requires no defense at all? It is sin that requires extensive justification whereas the truth stands on its own without need for defense. We must remember that when we speak the truth in love, it may not always be accepted. In fact, it may be rejected altogether. People may get angry with you and attempt to extensively justify why there sin is OK. In these cases, you thank them for listening to you and move on. You pray for other opportunities to speak truth. You pray that life’s events will bring them to a place where they will see their sin. You pray too that your concern is from a position of love and not retribution.

So, what you speak to someone first has to be done in humility from a heart that cares rather than one that is trying to justify itself. If we are trying to deflect attention from our own behavior, the first thing the other person will attack is your own credibility to say what you are saying – he who is without sin cast the first stone kind of thing. Integrity, baby! In the end, that’s what this passage is all about – integrity. Can what we say in public be supported by our actions in private! Have we examined our lives for unrepented sin before we condemn others? Integrity, baby! Are we speaking into another person’s life in loving care and concern over the direction of their life or are we simply trying to avoid dealing with our own shortcomings by deflecting attention on to another person? May we hold each other accountable in love. May we attempt to love others the way we want to be loved. May we change the things about ourselves that need changing so that the other person can see that hey if they are willing to change so am I. May we be the change that we want to see. May we pray for each other earnestly. May we pray that God will change us into the little Christs that He wants to be slowly but surely day by day.

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