“A log in the eye”

Matthew 7: 1-6

Introduction:

Let’s begin today by opening our Bibles to Matthew 7. The title of my sermon today is “A beam in the eye”

We’ll start with verses 1 to 5 and you will see why.

What is the theme of this passage? It seems to me that Jesus chose to address hypocrisy here.

If today, I ask you to define hypocrisy, what would you say?

The dictionary says that hypocrisy is a flaw that conceals one’s true personality and allocates virtue to something not possessed. But I think that it’s important to add an important detail with this definition.

Look with me in Luke 18: 9-14, we read a short story concerning a Pharisee and a Publican. You see, the Pharisee was a hypocrite. Actually, he was worse than the Publican. He left without having found forgiveness whereas the Publican was forgiven. Did you notice his major trait of hypocrisy, beyond that it made him proud and full of himself.

He liked judging others. He compared himself to the Pharisee and others around him.

So hypocrisy is not only a flaw that conceals one’s personality and allocates virtue that something not possessed. It’s also the flaw of judging others for glorifying one’s self.

When Jesus addressed the subject of hypocrisy in Matthew 7, it’s normal that he spoke of judgments.

How are we doing in our judgments today? Our way of judging others very much indicates our personality. It indicates if we have a tendency toward hypocrisy or not.

Before going any further, let me clarify some things.

I. Judging is a normal thing:

Too many people use this passage to guilt Christians when they give judgments.

A young girl left her house angry because her parents had just forbidden her to date a boy. He had a bad influence on her spirituality. In her anger she slammed her door and said, “Don’t judge, for fear that you will also be judged.”

Jesus didn’t want his words to be understood this way when he said them. The context of our passage in Matthew 7 proves it. Look at verse 6.

How can we avoid giving pearls to those who don’t deserve them, if we can’t tell the difference between pigs and lambs or between dogs and sheep?

To judge every thing is a normal tendency.

Solomon, himself, says in Proverbs 8:5, “fools understand discernment”. A father and a mother should teach their children to discern with appropriate judgments.

In 1 John 4:1, the apostle John will say “…”

In 1 Corinthians 2: 15, Paul will say “…” and read 1 Corinthians 6: 1-6.

A Christian should learn to give some judgments, to differentiate the true teachings from those that are false, to differentiate true religion from false, and sin from righteousness.

Most of us study and judge politicians when it comes time to vote. When this happens we say, “This candidate is good enough to run a country, but not this one!”

Can we honestly think that we have the right to judge things of the world but not of the church? God doesn’t forbid us to judge things in the spiritual realm.

People all around us would like to make us think God is against all judgment. They try to guilt us, because they want freedom to do as they please. We need to remember that the world hates absolute morals and truth.

Jesus will remove all doubts about our ability to judge in John 7: 24. In speaking to the Pharisees, he will say “…”

There is a good kind of judgment that he speaks of. What is it? To utter the opinions of God in all things. We need to call sin what God calls sin.

Therefore, calling adultery wrong is ok.
When we call fornication wrong, it is ok.
Likewise, pointing out that lying is wrong, is just.

In a sense, it’s not me who’s judging, but God. I can only utter loudly what God wrote in His Bible.

If in the situation of confronting sin, we have any fear that we may come off as judgmental. Then let’s content ourselves to read only the Bible to the one who has committed sin. Then we can ask them what God says in the chosen passages.

Let’s also remember that it is not really loving to not approach someone in their error. (Lev. 19: 17) We should have the courage to say, “Brother, I love you, but what you’re doing is not right! I am not judging you personally, but God himself condemns your actions in His word.”

II. However, let’s show prudence in our judgments:

At all times let’s be prudent when we emit any judgment. According to what Jesus says, our judgments are often made with bad motives and poor standards.

  1. Today, am I used to judging others on the basis of my likes or dislikes? On the basis of sports, clothing styles, hobbies, or personal interest? Do I say, such a person is acceptable because he plays like me, or because he speaks like me, because he eat as I do? Do I reject others on the same basis? The only acceptable standard that we should permit to measure things is the Bible. It shouldn’t be our personal opinions or personal likes.
  2. The only good motive for judging should be the desire to bring all things or all beings under the control of Christ. If I judge a person, may it only be for the purpose of bringing him or her closer to Christ, or to see if he or she is bringing me further from Christ. There aren’t any other good ways to judge.

I see at least four reasons for paying attention to our standards and our motives when we judge.

  1. Because our judgments can reflect a hypercritical attitude

    I see this addressed throughout Jesus’ illustration in verses 3 and 4.

    There are two men, one with a speck in his eye and the other with a beam. The one with the beam notices that his friend has a speck in his eye. Then he decides to give him an operation.

    It’s a comical illustration if you think about it!

    Jean-Claude (or someone else randomly) do I have dust in my eye? Anne can you see it? What would it take for you to know if I did? You would have to come very near to me and look with intent.

    When I had contacts, sometimes I would have something irritating in my eye. I would ask Tammy to help me look at it. She had to take a lamp to see the all the corners of my eye. She also had to get about 10 cm away. She would spend a lot of time and effort to find the problem.

    Jesus knew this principal. From his example, there’s an indication that sometimes our judgments can reflect hypercritical attitudes and finish by rendering us hypocrites.

    Brothers, are we hypercritical?

    Do you know the problem with hypercritical attitudes? They make us judge without consideration for others and their hearts. You see, we don’t know every heart like God does and so we can’t tell all the motivations.

    Plus being hypercritical literally destroys those around us.

    If I am this way, it doesn’t matter what people do, they will always disappoint me.

    Why is this? It’s because with a hypercritical attitude, you will always find what you want to find.

    For example, a vulture flies above many beautiful things, but all it sees is always the dead animals to eat from.

    Unfortunately each church and each family has its own vultures.

    They are like in those in the story of Pussy cat. His master found him after he was gone for a while. So he asked him:


    “Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?”
    “I went to London, to see the queen!”
    “Pussy cat, pussy cat, did you enter her room?”
    “I entered her room and crouched under the king’s chair.”
    “Pussy cat, pussy cat, did you see the queen?”
    “No, I saw a fat mouse under the throne of the queen!”

    Isn’t this sad for the cat? He goes to London, he succeeds in finding the queen’s castle, and then the room of the king and what does he see, the beautiful jewelry, tapestries or the beautiful queen? No, just a small mouse, because that is exactly what he was searching for.

    This afternoon, I tell you, we find the things that we look for. If I came here to find dust in the eye of someone, I will find it. If I came to find some mistakes in a sermon, I will find it. If I came to find mistakes in the worship, I’ll find them. If I came to find mistakes in our group, I will find them. If I came to criticize, I will find all I’m looking for.

    But the opposite is true as well. If I came to find God, I will find Him.

    Our heart determines what we will find.

    Today, am I one who searches for gold or am I one who searches for dust? Am I some sort of specialist in examining those around me or in examining my own mistakes?

    There are hypercritical people in life, and other’s who are not.

  2. Because our judgments can reflect a lack of love and patience.

    The second reason, we should be careful about judging is that our judgments can often reflect a lack of love and patience.

    One of the reasons that I judge quickly at times is because of a lack of relationship with someone.

    We are so very quick in our judgments towards those that God would want saved.

    Our Lord looks at each mean and sees a lost child, a child created by him. He suffers for this child when wrong is done. He is slow in anger towards him and he doesn’t want him to get lost. He loves as no other person can love.

    Do you recall Zacheus ? He was a man who was condemned by all the world. Yet, when Jesus saw him, he said, “Zacheus, get down from the tree, tonight I will dine at your house.” Why? Because Jesus loved him.

    Do my judgments reflect this kind of love?

    Let’s be prudent in our motives and our standards.

  3. Let’s be prudent because our judgments can reflect a lack of tolerance

    God doesn’t want us to judge by any standard other than His because all people can’t fit my mold.

    Do you know the story of Procrates, in the Greek tradition?

    It’s a legend that parents recount to their children.

    Procrates was an abductor and he lived in a cave. He dreamed that each person one day would be like him. Each night he would wake up, leave his cave and capture unlucky travelers. Whenever he caught them, he would bring them back. Then one by one, he placed them on his infamous bed. His bed was exactly his size. And if people were too tall, he would cut off their feet and legs. If people were too short, he would stretch their bodies with chains. They needed to match his size, his standard before they were released far away from his cave.

    You see, we can also act like Procrates when we desire people to change simply because we are uncomfortable with their differences.

    It’s the reason that we need to always check our motives and standards by which we are judging someone.

    Let’s remind ourselves that God created us with not only our physical differences, but also with mental differences, with different opinions, perceptions and deduction capabilities. There is beauty in these differences. Romans 14: 1-4 let us know that we need to be careful about judging those differences.

  4. Our judgments can become a way to avoid examining ourselves

    Finally our judgments permit us to avoid searching ourselves.

    Indeed, every time we spend time searching for the speck in our neighbor’s eye, we don’t have the chance to place a mirror in front of us, to get rid of our dust first.

    There is a risk then, that we may adopt a holier than thou attitude.

    And with it, we lose our mercy and compassion toward others.

    Today, I ask you, do our judgments permit our attention to be directed toward others, rather than ourselves?

    There was a woman who waited one day for a plane at an airport. She started getting hungry and went to a small shop to buy a coffee and cookies. When she returned to her place, she took out a book. She started reading and soon she saw a man next to her seize the packet of cookies. He opened it and served himself. He took one cookie, then two, then three. She was completely shocked. “How rude!”

    To avoid being aggressive she chose to say nothing aloud. However, as he was ready to eat the last two cookies, she grabbed them and swallowed them quickly. The man was surprised, and said nothing. He just stood up and left.

    Later while this woman was still smoking from the nerve of this man, she went into her purse for her ticket and guess what she found? She found a packet of cookies; she had been very wrong and had eaten the cookies of someone else.

    Conclusion:

    As you can see there is much danger in hateful judgments. Often we commit errors and miss out on being merciful.

    Jesus invites us to put ourselves in question. Are we hypocrites in our hateful judgments? To find out we should ask ourselves what are the motives and standards by which we judge.

    Finally, let’s remind ourselves that a fall with a beam in our eye will be a horrible fall.

    I’ll end with the words of Jesus, “ For we will judge you by the judgment that you have judged others, we will measure you with the same measure that you have measured others!”

    Let’s pray.