That’s a favorite phrase. You and I have probably used it in defense of an attack (or perceived attack) on our spirituality.
Those who would criticize the church and Christian faith use this quite often to fend off the church and her teachings.
But what was Jesus really saying? We often pull this one phrase out of context and forget it is part of a larger principle:
Matthew 7 New Living Translation (NLT)
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[c] when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend,[d] ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
6 “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.[e] Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.
Several things jump out:
- You will likely be treated (judged) in the same manner you treat (judge) others.
Andy Stanley defines judging as “sizing someone up then writing them off”. If we do that — we likely will be sized up and written off as well.
Once the doubting neighborhood writes you off — it is hard for you to gain a hearing for the gospel.
- The speck in your neighbor’s eye is a reminder that you also have issues to deal with.
When I notice the speck I am not to go after it, or even point it out….. First I am to get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Open and honest conversation begins when we all note that none of us are meeting the standard. None of us are where we need to be.
The church plant I am working with is called Compass Christian Church. Our tag line is: “Where are you going?” There are lots of levels on which we can apply that line — but one is the concept that not a one of us has yet arrived.
The new visitor who has never been to church — or the veteran member of 40 plus years both need a compass. Both need directional standards. Both need to keep moving “onward and upward” as they say in the Koinonia Community.
- Some people just aren’t ready to move ahead.
My views on the end times, the deep meaning of the Eucharist meal, or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit — even the subtle difference between Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas are all lost on many “pagans” in our world.
We need to start loving people as Jesus did. Just as they are. They aren’t ready for the whole thing right now. They simply need to learn that someone actually cares.
I mentioned the Koinonia Community. Without going into a lot of detail it has to do with retreats led by lay people to encourage deeper spiritual life and leadership in the local church. The weekends always start with two “talks”.
One — Ideals. Basically reminding attendees that they live by a set of standards even they never consciously think about them.
Second — a talk about the Prodigal son. However, the emphasis is on the love of God the Father in the story.
Spiritual development begins with knowing we have to choose a standard and that God loves us in spite of ourselves.
Jesus didn’t say never judge anyone. Just let them be and believe what they want.
He did say — don’t size people up and write them off. Being fully open and honest about your own issues and need for direction — compassionately love people where they are…..
But love them too much to allow them to stay there!