“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 the 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, ESV)
I’m not going to take the time in this post to write about the way our society has hijacked this verse. We’ve twisted it around to say that here is biblical evidence that standing up for what is right is wrong. We’ve used this verse to tell ourselves that we shouldn’t call out sin for what it is. But that’s not at all what Jesus is teaching here. I’d love to write about that, and maybe I will sometime, but first I want to draw your attention to everything that comes after the first sentence.
Notice how Jesus uses hyperbole and sarcasm to exaggerate an example? Your brother has a speck of dust in his eye and you want to take it out. Well first, dummy, look at the LOG sticking out of your own eye! Obviously, you can’t have an actual log in your eye – Jesus is being sarcastic to make a point. In this little paragraph of Scripture, the speck and log are symbolic of sin (yes, I know that’s obvious, but still needs to be stated directly).
Now, it could be that Jesus is saying the person with the log has way more actual sin than the person with the person with the speck. But, I don’t think this is exactly what he meant. I think Jesus is referring to how we view sin – both our sin and someone else’s sin. I think he wants us to ask ourselves this question:
The point is that my sin should bother me far more than your sin bothers me. It doesn’t matter if I think your sin is “worse” than mine or “more” than mine. When I compare myself to you, I should see a log in my own eye and a speck in yours. I should not judge you to be some worthless piece of refuse by comparing your sin to mine. And neither should I assume that I am some great example of humanity by comparing my “minor” sins to your “major” ones. Even if your sin really is worse or more than mine, I should still be far more grieved by my sin than yours!
And in reality, if somebody else’s sin is more obvious than yours, it usually just means that you’re better at hiding your sin than they are. It doesn’t usually mean you’re any less sinful!
So, take a breath and confess your sin. Ask God to reveal hidden sin in your life – sin that you may not even be aware of. Humble yourself by asking this question: Whose sin bothers you more – yours or theirs? Your sin should weigh far heavier on your heart than theirs. Only when you are walking in daily repentance, and you are humbled by the mercy and grace that has been shown to you, are you ready to lovingly, graciously, mercifully confront the sin in someone else’s life.
Have you ever had anyone confront sin in your life in a loving and gracious way that encouraged rather than condemned? What did they do and how did you respond?