“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”1 -Jesus
I recently re-read this parable, and purely as a gift I was able to see it from a new angle that amazed me. I always thought this parable was basically about being careful of judging others because I’ll be judged in the same way (which is true and amazing on its own). But what I saw is that the real issue Jesus is discussing here is much bigger; what he’s really discussing is sight. Judgment becomes a blockage to the bigger issue of our ability to “see,” as well as our ability to help our brother to see (perceive spiritual reality as it is in Christ, without filter or distortion).
According to the greatest prophet who ever lived, if a fellow believer has something hindering their spiritual perception/vision, you cannot help them if you approach them with an attitude of judgment, condemnation, or criticism. That very attitude becomes a greater hindrance to your own sight than the one you’re trying to remove in your brother. I think this is why Jesus referred to those who try to help others while judging them as hypocrites. It becomes another scenario of the blind leading the blind, and both of you will end up wandering off the way and into a ditch.
An attitude of judgment and criticism comes from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree/source makes one more aware of natural things such as the law, sin, and self; things that the religious people whom Jesus called “sons of hell” are very aware of and fond of talking about, but things that God doesn’t deal with. We need to start eating from and leading others to the Tree of Life once again, where there’s no condemnation, but grace, mercy, truth and Life. One of my favorite scriptures is John 1:4, which says: “ In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus was full of LIFE, and it’s only that life that dispels and conquers the darkness and death that are within us and which often cover themselves with religion.
Again, the “plank” in the eye that Jesus talked about is an attitude or heart of judgment. The main lesson in this teaching isn’t that we have to quit sinning before we can confront the sin in someone else, it’s that if we confront someone in an attitude of judgment, we become more blind than they are and cannot truly help them to see reality in the spiritual realm (in light of the cross). Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. He said he judges no man, but came to seek and save the lost.2 Certainly, Jesus was far from the emasculated lovey-dovey figure many have made of him, and he often stressed the need for repentance and the severity and hardship of being his disciple. Nevertheless, he didn’t come telling the world how terrible they were (he saved that for the religious hypocrites). Instead, he came declaring truth and made a way, the way, for reconciliation with God. Paul wrote “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men’s sins against them.”3 This is good news to those who love God, because the way has been opened – not the way to get to heaven and have a pleasurable existence, but to have the honor of knowing God and participating in building His kingdom as a son or daughter.
- Matthew 7:1-5, NKJV
- John 3:17, 8:15; Luke 19:10
- 2 Corinthians 5:19