I recently commented in a comment stream on that wonderful social medium of gracious exchange – Facebook! In the heat of the exchange that Bible verse from Matthew 7 used its powers of invisibility again.
The issue was on judging sin in others in light of loving the sinner and hating the sin. (Something from Gandhi, not the Bible.) I’m not opposed to loving the sinner and hating the sin, but I wonder if this mindset makes it easier to excuse or overlook sin. I was then given the ole log in my eye challenge.
Let’s look at the verses in question, Matthew 7:1-6.
[7:1] “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  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?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite.  “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:1-6 ESV)
Notice the missing part of any verses? It’s actually not invisible this time because I left it off. It seems the above quote is how most people read those verses. Some form of “judge not” may be heard over and over again in various dialogue. This seems especially so when unbelievers attempt to use these verses when they don’t want to hear what the Bible says about certain issues.
Christians omit the verse in question too though when they want to come across as more loving or – for some reason – act as if Jesus was soft on sin.
So what’s missing? This:  “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Jesus tells us to first remove the log (plank) from our own eye. He gives us permission to remove the speck from our brother’s eye as long as we deal with our own sins first. Of course, a log is much larger than a speck which shows the importance of addressing individual sin.
It has been argued that we can never truly remove the log from our eyes unless we are Jesus; and we’re not. Yet, Jesus allows – commands – us to remove the log to address the speck. If it is true that we can never remove the log from our own eye then it is equally true that we can never remove the speck.
What a dysfunctional fellowship of believers this attitude would lead to. See, Christians don’t do anything perfectly and totally absent of sin. Our faith is imperfect, as is our repentance, our thoughts, actions, motives, love, etc. And we can’t even pray rightly so the Holy Spirit must intercede for us (Rom. 8:26-27).
Instead, according to Jesus instruction, we can judge righteously. Therefore, we can spur one another toward love and good works (Heb. 10:24), exhort one another to keep from sinning (Heb. 3:13), restore those caught in sin (Gal. 6:1), directly address sin (Matt. 18) et al.
Christians don’t have to be afraid of helping other brothers and sisters remove sin from their lives. They just have to judge rightly by first seriously considering the sin in their own life.
Grace to you…
P.S. I wonder if those who are immediately offended by any talk of righteously judging according to Jesus’ words do so because they don’t want to deal with their own log.