Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log in your own eye? … You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye. (vv. 3, 5)
- Jesus makes a common-sense observation about perspective. Consider that he closer the proximity of an object to a person’s eye, the larger the object appears. In other words, a small speck seen from a distance appears much larger when it is in one’s own eye. In the same way, a fault in one’s own life is a far greater problem than the same fault in another’s life. The point of the passage, from this perspective is to keep silent to the other person only until, through true repentance and a turning from that sin, we correct that fault in our own life. Now, here’s where the proverbial rubber meets the road because – in direct opposition to much Christian theological development in centuries since His ascension, this Jesus who is speaking to the multitudes in Matthew actually expects His followers to pursue holiness by ultimately living in a righteous manner.
- Jesus also is careful to make the point that a believer will see clearly enough to make sound judgments and help fellow believers correct their own behavior only after correcting one’s own behavior. Many scholars of theology point to this statement as Christ’s recognition that mankind in his frailty tends to judge based upon what lies within his own heart; that is, man has a distinct tendency to see himself in others. The arrogant person, in other words, will have a heightened tendency to see arrogance in other people. The same holds true in any number of immoral areas: cruelty, deceptiveness, unscriptural sexual desires or behaviors, to name a few. When we ourselves are involved in some particular aspect of sin, it’s extremely difficult for us to break out of our own vices to clearly empathize with others in the same situation. Christ, in fact, makes the case that it is more challenging – maybe even impossible – to do so when our hearts are impure in a given area.