Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others.The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend,‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 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)
We can get passages like this very wrong. Some think that it forbids criticism, whereas it forbids a certain sort of criticism. Some think we have no right to find fault in others, whereas we are in fact commanded to do something about the “speck” in another’s eye.
Jesus is warning against hypocritical judgementalism, not mere rebuke. Jesus did plenty of rebuking after all. He warns against being blind and deaf to our own failings whilst focusing on the failings of others. Awareness of our own faults helps us approach others’ faults with humility and sensitivity. The experts, in fact, tell us that we can be guilty of avoiding having to face our own faults by finding those same faults in others. So a notorious gossip will be harshly critical of another notorious gossip.
It is not as if we have to be perfect in order to practice healthy criticism. We just have to be self aware and so be working on our own “logs”. We just have to guard against playing down our own logs by focusing too much on others’ specks.
Removing a literal speck from a literal eye requires great care and has to be done. But best done by someone with clear vision. Or to put it another way, only the broken hearted can begin the necessary but delicate task of mending another broken heart.