At least once a day, I must clean my spectacles. Though I am cautious not to ever touch the lenses, nevertheless, my glasses get oils and dirt on them making it more difficult to see clearly. I’m always pleased to note how much brighter, crisper, and better I can see after the cleaning ritual. However, there are times when I am away from my desk in which I store microfiber cloth and cleaning solution. In those times, I have attempted to clean my glasses by such timeless methods as using my breath and my handkerchief or T-shirt. Many times, this merely spreads the smears over a greater portion of my lenses. There is no substitute for properly cleaned eyeglasses.
As Christians we must also be vigilant that we not let our perception be distorted or impeded by our sins and shortcomings. Do we not too often feel that we can see what others are doing wrong while being unwilling or unable to recognize our own blind spots? Doubtless this will call Jesus’ lesson about the speck and the log to mind. In Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version we read, “3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Jesus was making the point that we human beings have a proclivity for being judgmental of others while ignoring our own issues. Indeed, I confess, that is a snare that easily draws us in and springs up around us. The issue Jesus is addressing is not discerning how to help other people, but rather of passing judgment upon them without acknowledging and seeking help for our own sins and shortcomings. Jesus is not against us helping each other, for indeed if I had a literal piece of sawdust in my eye, I would greatly need the help of someone else to safely remove it. In fact, I would welcome its removal. And if you’ve ever had a foreign object in your eye, you know how uncomfortable it is. So, imagine how much effort must go into ignoring a whole plank. The word picture here is of one who has grown accustomed to and comfortable with his/her own sins, but feels righteous, nonetheless. Worse this sin blinded soul believes her/himself to be justified and entirely appropriate to pass judgment on others. To this mentality, Jesus counsels that they deal with their own sins before trying to deal with the sins of others.
Think about it this way. Imagine that you have a foreign object lodged in your eye, so you go to an ophthalmologist to get it removed. However, when you get into the chair you notice that the doctor’s glasses and indeed the optical examination equipment are both smudged with fingerprints, oil and dirt. Will you want that doctor groping about in your eye? No, you will not! You will demand that the glasses and equipment be cleaned.
So it is with us as Christians with an obligation to love others and help them find salvation in Jesus Christ. We must continually seek the help of Christ to deal with our sins and we must be humble enough to recognize that we are ever in need of the cleansing that Jesus offers. As believers we don’t need to judge sin in others, God has already judged all sin. This means that when we see something that God has called sinful, we are not judging, we are recognizing the thing God has already judged. So, if you see someone steal, you are not judging them if you recognize that stealing is a sin. You are just agreeing with God. However, our problem comes when we want to be the one to mete out the thief’s punishment. It is not given to us to issue a sentence of judgment on others. That prerogative belongs exclusively to God. As Christians our focus should be on getting Jesus’ help to overcome any sin in us and in helping others receive God’s grace so that they can have victory of their sins too! The best way to summarize this is to say that when we look at any other person and fail to agree with God as to what is sinful, we err. Moreover, when we look at a person who has fallen into sin and we fail to love them enough to want to see them freed from sin by the grace of God, we are committing the greater sin.
Contact Pastor Lamb at leadpastor@ imlaycityamazinggrace.org