Jesus said, "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye" (Matthew 7:1-3)? The context of this passage addresses and challenges how we handle several issues such as judging, critically over analyzing, and hypocrisy. The most riveting part, for me anyway, is when Jesus stated, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye?" Why do we look at the speck? Notice that Jesus doesn't condemn the ministry of "speck removing." He stated, however, that the obscurity must be removed from our own eyes first so we would be able to accurately see the issue needing to be removed from our brother. Therefore, revealing the true motive in our heart concerning the person and the speck that we identified.
Jesus used strong language regarding the removal of the speck (Matthew 7:4). He insisted that it was to be taken out (ekballo). This verb is often used in reference to extracting demons. The fact remains that if there's something hindering my spiritual vision, then I want a Christian brother to remove it as quick as possible. However, I desperately want that person to have proper spiritual focus. I had a doctor remove a small piece of metal that was embedded in the pupil of my eye. I was glad that his vision was not impaired or obscured as he gently scraped my eye with a scalpel.
Why do you think Jesus used such a massive contrast of a speck and a log? Wouldn't it be obvious if something that large was in our life? I believe that's the point; people seem to be oblivious to their own problems. It's humorous to think that we could see a tiny spot in another person while failing to see the tree limb in our own eye. We can become critical of other people's Christian conduct while failing to observe our own issues that desperately need attention.
Jesus called such a person a hypocrite (hypokrites). This word describes a person who is an actor or stage performer. They place a mask over their face and pretend to be something else. A hypocrite describes a person who isn't real or someone who takes on a false identity. When the piece of metal was being removed from my eye, I didn't want the doctor with forged credentials. I wanted a doctor who had studied and prepared so he could perform minor surgery.
Thus, Jesus is challenging a Christian who lacks authenticity and has improper motives. He's describing one who is critical and ill-spirited toward another believer. Note what Jesus said, "First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly" (Matthew 7:5). To see clearly (diablepo) means to look with accuracy. One expositor underscored the idea of looking deep into someone. Often, people only observe surface issues of someone without taking time to get to know their heart. It's easy to make critical leaps of judgement when we don't value people or merely make superficial assessments.
About a year ago, someone apologized to me because they read a "bad report" about me. When they actually listened to me and heard my heart, they realized the report was inaccurate. Taking the log out of your own eye might require you to sit down with someone and hear them before making a critique. Let them open their heart before you open your mouth. A few years ago, I sat down with someone who I was in conflict with. Initially, I was ready to lambast them for their attitude. Instead, I asked if everything was fine or if they were hurting in some manner. Their behavior toward me resulted from a painful domestic situation. I was able to minister to them with love and grace and the speck was removed from their spiritual life. Gratefully, Jesus helped me to first remove the log out of my own eye before our meeting.
In the process of having the metal removed from my eye I learned that there was a true urgency concerning a timely removal. It needed to be removed in approximately 3 hours or a rust ring would begin to develop around the metal. The metal injured my eye and my body's response was to protect and isolate the offense. If the metal was not removed, I may not immediately lose my vision, but the ring would increasingly obscure my ability to see clearly and accurately.
When we are hurt, injured, or offended, our vision can become skewed. We can begin to build a protective wall around the pain, which then requires extensive spiritual surgery to remove the growing rust ring in our heart. I think Paul knew the potential danger to our physical, spiritual, and emotional being when we allow a speck to remain in our body and why he said in Ephesians 4:26-27, "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." Candidly, I can say that many conflicts I've been in, looming in the background of my own heart has been spiritual deficiencies that I've ignored or was ignorant of.
We all want to be heard, but I believe one of the central lessons in these verses is to value other people enough to hear them. Don't make impulsive judgements toward others. Remember, hurt people will hurt people. Perhaps there's a reason someone doesn't treat you well. There could be a reason why someone manifests improper behavior: a broken home, a failed marriage, a lost child, insecurity, or a job loss. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your own heart first. Then ask that He will soften your heart and give you the discernment to minister to them in such a manner that all debris can be carefully removed from their spiritual eyes.
Jesus, I want clean hands and a pure heart so that you can use me to help my brothers and sisters see with greater clarity, amen.