When you judge: how a log can affect your vision

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven…
Can a blind man lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like a teacher.
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? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye’, when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
Luke 6:37, 39-42

Jesus had a lot to say about how we treat others. Prior to this passage, he had been speaking about loving and praying for our enemies, doing good to others, and being merciful as our Father is merciful to us. Now he continues his lesson of relationships by bringing up being judgmental.

Jesus paints this silly picture of how we see others and their sin. His picture of a log in someone’s eye is ridiculous and goofy, but it is effective. His point of judging others’ actions or habits before our own, which are likely equivalent if not more so to our own, is hypocritical.

The problem is, we mask our blindness to our own sin, denying the fact that we should be examining our actions first. We can’t help someone else with their issues when we are still in the thick of things ourselves. We won’t be strong enough, be understanding enough, or have clarity about what is best.

Examples: (think of You Might be a Redneck if…)
-You might be hypocritical if you’re a school teacher who gives a student a failing grade for cheating on a test, when you are having an affair on your spouse.
-You might be hypocritical if you try help your child learn about the potential problems of drinking alcohol, while you are drunk and an alcoholic.
-You might be hypocritical if you go to your friend’s home for dinner and see the dust bunnies gathered in the corner then gossip about it with a friend, while your home hasn’t been vacuumed or dusted in a month.

This is tied to the “blind leading the blind” comparison in verse 39. First, recognize your own problem, and secondly, work on it, change it, correct it. Only then are you able to honestly and empathetically help someone else that has a similar problem. It helps if you have been there and know how to get through it. (A lightbulb went off in my head with this way of understanding the passage – perhaps it was a Holy Spirit moment – I hadn’t considered this before. Up to now, I had always read this passage and looked at it as a pride issue, which it is as well, but not just that. I guess its like an onion; layers.)

There are two key words in this passage that stand out to me: “and then you will ‘see clearly’ to take out the speck…”. When you have been through it and come out the other side, then your vision is clear, not clouded, and you now have both eyes open to see and focus on the real problem. This will allow you to work with your friend out of love, compassion and patience, rather than judgment.

Food for thought: “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
Romans 14:10-13

Fun facts: Around 3000 years ago, the Israelites were ruled by judges. There were 15 judges that ruled for nearly 350 years, ending with Samuel. This all changed when the Israelites begged God for a king like the other people had – enter Saul. What they didn’t realize was that there was a King of Kings coming in 350 years that would rule the hearts of all mankind for rest of history.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Moss covers fallen log

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