WEEK ONE: REPENTANCE
MATTHEW 7:1-5 (NRSV)
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
I have written of this before, but this passage always has me asking, “Why couldn’t Jesus just tell us to remove the speck in our own eye before we remove the speck in our neighbor’s eye? Why do I have to have a log when my neighbor only has a speck?”
Jesus is pointing out the difficulty we have in seeing our own flaws. But could Jesus also be showing us that our judgment of the faults of others reveals how much our own faults are troubling us?
In her article, “How to Be Less Critical,” Brené Brown writes,
One way to become more aware of how we judge is to understand why: We’re often motivated by a need to compare ourselves favorably with the people around us. We tend to judge others in areas where we feel most vulnerable or not good enough… In these moments, we take unconscious refuge in the thought, “At least I’m better than someone.” *
What we find annoying in others is something that annoys us in ourselves! I do this when I make excuses or blame outside factors when I am late for an appointment, but then question why another person isn’t more responsible with her time. I do this when we buy a second Christmas tree instead of donating that money to a community shelter, but then become critical of those greedy politicians. I may feel a bit uncomfortable and frivolous about the tree, but at least “I’m not as bad as they are.” My specks increase from the flaws themselves into: flaws + blame + comparison + judgment of others = logs!
Jesus doesn’t say we are only to remove our log. He invites us to remove our log in order to more clearly see the speck we are to remove in others. Imagine helping one another as beloved children of God. In humbly and honestly pointing out our own logs and how God is helping us to remove them, other dear ones might recognize and find help for their own. A speck in any eye is painful, and Jesus wants to free all of us from that pain and irritation. Jesus also knows a greater truth: as we remove our own log, the other person’s speck will no longer be such a concern to us- because we are no longer irritated by our own.
When do you find yourself most critical or judgmental?
What “speck” do you find most irritating or annoying in others?
How might God be revealing something in yourself- something God is ready to help you remove?
So many of your words are hard for us to hear and obey, but thank you for saying them. Today, please help us to see and remove the logs of imperfection in our eyes, so that we may more clearly see others with your perfect vision of love. Amen.