Read Matthew 7:1-5
7 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others.[a] The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.[b]
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[c] when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend,[d] ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First, get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (NLT)
Texts like this are so often taken wrongly. Some argue that Jesus is forbidding our criticising others. Which is a bit hard to take given he had some pretty strong criticisms of others, as did Paul, as did the Old Testament prophets. Jesus is not telling us to abandon our critical faculties and never speak our mind in opposition to others.
When he talks of “logs and specks” he gives us a clue as to what he is meaning. He is warning us against the sort of criticism that lacks any awareness of our own failings while focussing on the failings of others. Note that he suggests we do deal with the “speck” in someone’s eye, but only after being intent on addressing our own issues. Preachers and other church leaders need to be particularly aware of the danger of lashing out at the failings of church members while not admitting their own vulnerability.
The judging of which he speaks is that of delivering hypocritical and harsh verdicts on the failings of others whilst not bothering about our own faults. We are to lovingly address the deficiencies in others’ lives: it would be unloving not to do so. But we only do so being well aware that as we encourage others to tidy their lives up, we are also at work cleaning up our own backyards.
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