“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)
Jesus defines a hypocrite in Matthew 7:1-5 as someone who ignores his own sin, while pointing out the sin of others. Many people have taken Jesus’ instructions on judging others to mean that we should never confront sin in another person’s life. But if you look closely at this passage in its entirety, I believe that Jesus is saying just the opposite.
Notice the final sentence in this passage: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Hypocrisy is solved by self-examination, not by overlooking sin. Hypocrisy ends, not when we ignore sin, but when we hold ourselves to the highest standard instead of pointing the finger at everyone else.
The heart of Christ is for His people to help one another. He wants us to be able to see clearly so we can help one another to live lives worthy of the gospel. It is not judgmental or hypocritical to call sin what God calls sin. But the purpose of doing so is not to condemn, but to restore and reconcile. When our eyes and hearts are clear of “planks,” our motives are to draw near, not to push away. Our words are loving, not harsh. Our attitudes are humble, not puffed up and condescending.
So the question is, can you see clearly? Are there planks in your eye that needs to be removed so that you can help others who are held in bondage to sin? Whether a speck or a plank, all sin is destructive and grieves the heart of God. If we truly love others, we will be willing to lovingly help our brother with his speck of sawdust – but only after we’ve cleared our eyes of any planks.
Prayer: Father, only You can cleanse my heart of sin. I can never try hard enough or be good enough in my own strength. Please remove any planks that are in my eyes so that I may clearly see how to love and serve others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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