Logs and Splinters
Can you imagine the deformity of a woman walking around with a log in her eye? You know, a new kind of body piercing. Even a smaller log would be quite odd – perhaps the size of one you could easily toss on a fire at your campsite. Contrast that imagining with someone who has managed to inadvertently catch a splinter in her eye. A mere sliver of a log. Annoying and probably painful, but still barely observable to an onlooker. That’s the contrast Jesus pictures for us in Matthew 7. And His contrast is even more pronounced, for He compares logs with “specks” – a feathery bit of sawdust. To take this absurdity further, imagine the woman with the latest in body piercings awkwardly (and for practical purposes, dangerously) hunched over the woman with the speck in her eye. She is intent on removing the offending object from her friend’s eye. (Friendship may become questionable.)
Moving from the ridiculous to reality, think about the last time you became aware of a friend’s shortcoming or a family member’s lack of meeting your expectation. How did you respond? Perhaps their failure was even one of shame or repeated downfalls. Did you even consider that possibly you had your own issues to deal with? That, maybe, a direct confrontation with a reactionary stance, was an attempt to downsize the sin areas in your life? Jesus is not telling us to ignore sin, but He is telling us that a certain purity is needed in our own heart before we attempt to clean up the heart of another. I believe He is also telling us that when we are willing to recognize the impurities we ourselves struggle with, our approach with another will extend to that one the same grace we know we are so utterly dependent on. Paul paints a rather ugly picture of sin in Romans 1, and then begins chapter 2 by saying, “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad ...” He speaks to the Galatians and captures a biblical approach to the confrontation of another’s sin. If another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And then he cautions, “... be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” I believe that if we follow what Christ taught and remove first the log that deforms our own Christian walk, then as we, with loving grace, gently and humbly help another, we may well see the fruit of Proverbs 9:8 and 9. Correct the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.