A Plank in the Eye

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I was talking to someone the other day who claimed to have a close relationship with God. He stated that Jesus was only a great man who had many great philosophical teachings. It broke my heart to hear him say this. I asked him what he thought about the fact that part of Jesus’ philosophy is His oneness with God, the Creator. He did not answer. Upon further conversation, I learned that a major reason this person believes the way that he does is the hypocrisy within the Church. Sadly, I can see exactly where he was coming from.

Jesus addressed this very issue while He was teaching His disciples in His most famous sermon: the Sermon on the Mount. “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?” (Matthew 7:3).

Joseph, Mary’s husband, was a carpenter. Jesus would have been taught the trade of carpentry as a child. He obviously knew that sawdust was only a remnant after sawing down a plank of wood.

People who claim to follow Jesus today are very quick to point out someone else’s fault. Sometimes we are guilty of drawing attention to the speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye. Does the speck of sawdust not mean that our brother is fighting his sin? Is he not “sawing it down?” This makes it more noticeable because he is actually working on it. Because we pay more attention to our brother’s shortcoming, we either fail to see the plank in our own eye, or try to hide it.

Why do we not try and cut our own sin down to size? The plank hinders our ability to focus on the God who created us. In fact, we are so blinded that we cannot see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. We are so blind that we fail to see our brother’s struggle with that particular sin. We fail to see where the stumbling block begins. So, when we try and correct our brother, even if we do have good intentions, we are judging them because we can only see what they are doing wrong. The plank in our eye is blinding us from seeing the true struggle. We cannot aid and condemn in the same moment.

When we consider our own sin, and work to cut that sin down to size, we will begin to realize our brother’s struggle. We will also be left with a speck of sawdust in our own eye. Then, we will be able to see more clearly. We will be able to truly help our brother because we know the struggle that he endured, and we can now see the intensity of his struggle.

Though sawdust is only a remnant of the plank, it is much harder to remove. So we help each other to overcome the small temptation that is left. We hold each other accountable, for it would be worse if the plank that we struggled to remove was driven back into our eye.

This is true brotherhood. Though we should not judge our brothers, we are their keeper. It is easier to truly help our brother if we have endured a similar struggle. When we offer to help our brother, we need to stick around to help them overcome. We need not uncover a fault and leave our brother; to do so is to judge harshly.

What if we see that someone is doing wrong, but they are not a brother in Christ? They do not live by the same law that we do. Why would we judge those who belong to the world by Christian standards? Jesus says this in verse 6. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Reading this we learn that being able to help each other grow in righteousness is a gift. It is compared to a pearl. This is one of the great ways we can express our brotherhood toward one another. Usually we do not think of accountability as sharing a godly bond, but that is exactly what it is.

Please allow me to encourage you all to follow me in “Cutting down the plank”, so that we will be able to focus on God and see the struggle of our fellow brothers and sisters for what it truly is. Do not judge, but be helpful, considerate and sincere when correcting a brother or sister. Do not hold a worldly society accountable to the commands of Jesus Christ. Doing so might push them away from the Church.

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