May 10, 2012, 2:26 PM
“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 7:3-5)
Ever been judgmental? It is a common sin. We are all prone to pointing a finger at or picking on someone. For one reason or the other, it turns the spotlight on someone else rather than on us. If only we would dare to look closely at ourselves, we would refrain from undue criticisms of others; for much of the time we display the same ills, habits and behaviours or worst.
What our Lord Jesus is saying here is, do not be quick to judge others. If we should be critical and judgmental it is best we start with ourselves. I bet you it would do us a lot of good. On the scale of one to ten, it is often comparable to a speck and a plank, figuratively speaking. Sometimes those who criticise should rather focus on their own shortcomings, defects and faults which they seem to amplify in others.
Indirectly, Jesus was talking to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were among the crowd that had gathered to listen to his Sermon on the Mount. They were quick to pull the trigger in order to judge and cast blame. Actually, they vainly posed as the approved models to copy. Anyone who did not conform was considered outside the norm; superiority complex, most definitely. The masses no doubt must have suffered under their leadership a great deal for our Lord to have made special mention of it.
Here’s a case in point. The Pharisees and the Sadducees (the temple elders of the day) brought before Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. They came with stones in their hands, obviously to administer prompt judgement - by stoning her to death. By the way they had already made up their minds about the case but wanted to test Jesus.
In the eyes of the law she was guilty and she merited punishment. Their thinking was already flawed in that they brought only one of the partners to Jesus’ court. Where was the chief culprit? They had cleared him no doubt. Probably, he must have been one of their mates.Adultery is an act involving two people. In this instance the man had been exonerated. What they failed to realise however is that Christ receives sinners. He declared: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick ... For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13b) A hymn writer renders it thus: “Christ receives sinful men, even me with all my sins; purged from every spot and stain, heaven with him I enter in. He will take the most sinful; Christ receives sinful men.”
They stood her before the group and in a condemning tone said to Jesus. “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:3-5)
The intention was to trap Jesus whether he would uphold Mosaic Law or not. By soliciting a verdict, they sought endorsement for their action - to stone her to death that is. Aware of their hypocritical stance, Jesus paid them no heed. He only told them, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
That did it! One by one, beginning with the older ones, each retraced his steps, until all of her accusers left the scene. Jesus then lifted his head and asked her: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10) She responded in the negative. Jesus added: “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
We do not meet God’s standards when we judge and are critical of others, because it is as If we consider ourselves holier - it is the case of those who think too highly of themselves. The degree of somebody else’s godliness, ungodliness or failures is not a matter for us to judge. Judging a human being is God’s prerogative.We must stop playing God.
It is best we take care of the planks in our eyes and leave the others with their specks!