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Out of the 4 passages before us today: Psalm 112, 2 Chronicles 7:1-9:12, Colossians 3:1-17 and Luke 6:37-42, I’ve little doubt the latter is the one most familiar to most of us. Taking the log out of our own eye before trying to take a speck out of someone else’s has become proverbial. I’m Reid Ferguson, and I’d like (no pun intended) to take another look at that passage today on Through the Word in 2020.
As Christians, we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about sin. One can’t read the Bible without that theme being found everywhere. The entire plan of redemption and Jesus’ death on the cross is in reference to sin. To deliver us from sin’s penalty, power and eventually, its very presence. But when our interest in sin is more about other’s sins than our own, bad things can happen. Hence Jesus’ reference in Luke 6.
He asks a very pointed question: “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?” We tend to fix on the comparison here between a speck and a log, and we are meant to notice that feature.
What we tend to overlook is answering Jesus’ question – why is it we do this? And the answer is clear, we are most often blind to our own sins because they are so large – they prevent us from seeing clearly. And that then makes us pretty poor candidates for addressing other’s sins. But that doesn’t stop us much does it? Attacking other’s sins seems to be a national pass-time right now – both inside and outside of the Church.
That aside, let’s note a few other things of importance here.
First, this portion is not talking about mere public rebuke of public wrongs. It is about personal investment in helping one another grow in Christ.
Those not well accustomed to dealing with their own sin, are never qualified to deal with someone else’s. Those that are like a bull in a China shop with other’s sins, are those who have little experience dealing with their own. Their aggressiveness and vitriol is a dead give away.
Second, Jesus’ reference to taking something out of one’s eye is wonderfully informative. For the eye is tender, and dealing with something in the eye takes:
a. Carefulness. Other damage is easily done. Such surgery can cause permanent blindness if not handled well. The old Chinese proverb: “Never remove a fly from a friend’s face with an axe” comes to mind. We must be very clear what “speck” we are after, and judge it a speck. We are to see their sins as less than our own. And remember that a speck needs tweezers, not a crowbar.
b. Gentleness. Eyes are sensitive and tender. Sins are often very dear to our hearts. Our object is to be curative, not retributive. Think of how painful it has been when facing your own sins. And if you do not have that experience, hand this off to someone else. The Church Father Origin who emasculated himself trying to deal with lust, is not the guy to go to if you have a problem with lust. Until, maybe, long after he had found his methods severely wanting.
c. Relationally. Dealing with people’s individual sins is not something you do walking down the street with strangers. Do I have the person’s trust such that they will trust me with a sensitive area? Have I earned that? Do they know I have only their best interest at heart, and have some skill in what I am approaching, and some experience of how delicate a thing it is?
We need to be about helping one another with our sins. But we are not prosecuting attorneys. We are fellow convicts, leading each other to grace.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.