Speck-ulation: What’s Your View?
Matthew 7:1-5 NASB. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 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.”
Here Jesus goes for the bullseye, right between the eyes, we might say. He has previously used the idea of the clear or single eye to reveal the necessity of having only the kingdom of heaven as our sole (soul?) preoccupation, unfettered from the concerns of the world. Once more He directs our view inward toward our own faults. The Amplified Version puts it this way (verse 3): “Why do you stare without at the very small particle that is in your brother’s eye, but do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye?” He is directing us to look within with penitential intention.
The issue is, am I seeing my neighbor’s particle or my own beam (or sliver and log, per some translations)? Why is it that our Lord and Master always seems to point out His perfect view of inconvenient truths about our actual interior condition, when we’d rather point out someone else’s according to our imperfect view? What is going on here is perhaps that, while we’re noticing and even judging someone else’s imperfections, we’re failing to notice the truth about what needs to change within ourself. Yet we do not want to repent of it. Instead we may project that sin or flaw or fault onto someone else. We see our flaws in theirs, but do not wish to own up to it. According to verse 2, there a comeuppance involved in this - by our standard of measure it is measured to us.
But if we are seeing prayerfully and clearly what needs to change within us, by the searchlight of the Holy Spirit, so that the Kingdom of heaven may further advance in our own interior, we may have to admit to and confess a serious log jam! When we come from a view of self examination and true repentance, we will not be staring from without so as to fault find or judge our brothers and sisters.
This is not to say we will never notice anything about anyone else, yet it’s important not to use it to gossip or harshly criticize them. Often this is done to bolster our own ego so we can feel superior, but at the end of the day, that little emperor does not wish to acknowledge his own nakedness.
Instead we might try a different approach if we have a dim perception about someone else: We could use it as a mirror of reflection - turning our gaze interiorly as a point of self examination. We might instead come before the Lord in quiet prayer, asking, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23,24)
Jesus lovingly desires this for our eternal good, which always brings Him glory. When we see our own log or beam for what it is, we can then bring it to the cross, where we see this crucified and dead in Him. That is the awful cost of our sin and the transgressions that come from this fallen condition. Here at the foot of the cross, we cry out the penitent’s prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”
He will never fail to bestow the forgiveness granted there through Jesus Christ. And we also hear Him say, “Go, and sin no more.”
In considering and confessing our own sinful log jam, we can admit that our eye has not been clear and single, but it has wandered where it should not, just as adulterously as David’s eye wandered toward Bathsheba. Holy Spirit guided conscience keeps the watchful eye to bring us back to where our eye must be, as a kind of inner prophet Nathan, convicting us and at the same time showing the way back to grace and the remission of sin, as we pray with David (Psalm 51);
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. 7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. 16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. 18 By Your favor do good to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, In burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar."
There is work to do, and the truth is not “out there”; it’s “in here”. Jesus “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8) Let us align ourselves, by the power of the Holy Spirit, with the continuation of that good work which He has begun in us, to the glory of His name. Amen.