Stuck In The Eye
Robert Wurtz II
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. (Matthew 7:3-5)
Our passage is a solemn reminder that sometimes people have a tendency to gaze upon the faults of others, while looking past greater faults in their own lives. Jesus defines the behavior as hypocrisy. This is a particular danger in our times for a number of reasons. In the body of Christ there are some sins that are viewed as heinous, while other equally or more serious sins are often marginalized. In the world there is a huge emphasis on self-esteem that does not allow some people to be introspective. they would think about their shortcomings, but that would make them feel bad about themselves, so they avoid the practice.
From time to time I think to write upon a particular subject and the Holy Spirit will bring this verse before my mind. Perhaps some behavior or action I have done has been displeasing to God and He wants it dealt with – long before I speak on a topic. You may ask, why is that? Three reasons: first, it is hypocritical to want to help others correct issues in their lives while we have glaring ones that we have not dealt with. Secondly, we cannot see clearly to be of any real help. Our perceptive faculties are encumbered by that which is “in our eye.” Thirdly, we may tend to emphasize other peoples faults and sins in order to minimize the seriousness of our own. This is a subtle, but deadly mind game.
On three separate occasions in my life I have had metal removed from my eye. Few things are more painful than having a foreign object scraping against your eyeball. I suppose God designed us that way. We need to be able to see clearly, so we need our eyes in tip top shape. Our natural response is to get that thing out of there! Now! Not later; right this second! We can’t have our eyes destroyed by foreign objects. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine the pain of having a beam in my eye. Small beam (pencil), medium beam (broom stick), or a large beam (floor joist) – they are all dreadful to me. If such were the case, we would undoubtedly be blind in that eye. Obviously this passage is intended to be metaphorical, but we can easily see the difficulty here. A person with a speck in their eye may be rubbing it or flushing it with water, but a person with a beam ought to be screaming in pain.
However, sometimes, rather than scream with pain, we may take it upon ourselves to focus on someones splinter as if they needed more help than us. This is hypocrisy. We will never get anywhere in the Kingdom of God while we focus on someone different’s shortcomings and marginalize our own. Moreover, we can’t possibly see their problem correctly and are liable to make it worse. Notice Jesus’ words, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly…” When we have compromise, disobedience or sin in our lives, our spiritual and moral vision is clouded at best and blocked at worst. We are simply in no shape to help anyone.
Our first step is to take our focus off of others and get it on ourselves. Allow God’s Word to do its work and acknowledge that we have a plank in our own eye (if so be that we have one). Acknowledge that it is there in the strongest of terms. We can’t use strong terms for other peoples sins – use euphemisms for ours and avoid the charge of hypocrisy. We have to call it what it is and repent. What good is it to go on focusing on somebody else?
Perhaps even while reading this you may be thinking, “I know someone that does that!” You are already falling into the trap. Our passage applies to all of us. As if we locked ourselves in a room alone with God and this passage – we need to let God do a work in us. We need to allow Him to turn our attention back upon our own spiritual condition. Not our enemy; not our rivals, not the church, not the TV preacher, etc., but me. Me, me, me! A thousand times, me!