Today’s Reading: Matthew 7
A concerned husband went to see the family doctor. “I think my wife is deaf,” he said. “She never hears me the first time I say something. In fact, I often have to repeat things over and over.”
“Go home tonight,” the doctor suggested. “Stand about fifteen feet from her, and say something. If she doesn’t reply, move about five feet closer and say it again. Keep doing this so we can get an idea of the severity of her deafness.”
That night, the husband went home and did exactly as instructed. He stood about fifteen feet from his wife, who was standing in the kitchen, chopping vegetables.
“Honey, what’s for dinner?” he said. When he received no response, he moved five feet closer and asked again. “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
So he moved another five feet closer and repeated his question. But still no reply.
Fed up and frustrated, he moved right behind her, and standing about an inch away, asked one final time, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
“For the fourth time,” she said, “chicken!”
Guess who had the problem? Guess who was the deaf one?
We can laugh over this story, but it tells a truth: we always assume it’s the other person who has the problem.
Jesus addressed this issue in the last part of the Sermon on the Mount—and it gets really up close and personal. He called it logs and specks.
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3)
Jesus was a carpenter so this illustration made sense. Jesus said, in essence, “How can you see the speck in others and yet miss your own log?” In other words, Jesus was saying that the little junk you see in other people and point out just reveals a lot of junk that’s in you, which you choose to ignore.
Jesus called this type of person a hypocrite. I’ve heard a hypocrite described this way:
“A hypocrite is a person who is easy on himself but hard on others, but a godly man is hard on himself and easy on others.”
It’s much harder to judge yourself than to judge others.
Jesus’ challenge is for us to keep our eyes on ourselves first and be especially sure to admonish ourselves before you and I admonish any of our friends. When practicing this, some good advice to start with is this:
• It would be wiser to accuse yourself and excuse others.
• If you want to be endured, then learn to endure others.
The fault lies not in our inability to see ourselves but in our unwillingness to see ourselves. As the great nineteenth-century preacher Charles H. Spurgeon aptly put it: “None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves.”
I have asked couples in marriage counseling to name their logs before telling me their spouse’s specks. It’s amazing how hard it is for them to think of their own.
We get in the way of ourselves. Instead we prefer to be the “Help and Speck Inspector.”
If we go back to what Jesus was saying, He was showing us that logs are bigger than specks. Meaning that we have a bigger problem than those we judge. When we don’t start with “I’m the problem,” we have a long haul ahead of us in our relationships. Instead, we must always start with ourselves—not with the other person.
If you want to judge, judge yourself first, is what Jesus said. Logs before specks, and logs take a long time to get rid of. You’ll be so busy getting rid of the log that you won’t have time for specks. Get this and you will build deep, meaningful and long-term relationships.
London preacher (and one of the best Bible-character writers), F. B. Meyer, once said, “When we see a brother or sister in sin, there are three things we do not know and [must] keep in mind before we pass judgment:
First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin.
Second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her.
Third, we do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances.”
Good words to remember.