Monday, April 21, 2008

Questions Jesus Asked - Judging Others (4)

Here’s one for you – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

One thing you can say about Jesus, he didn’t sugarcoat it. We find this question in Matthew 7, verse 3. I’m not sure this one needs a lot of explanation. Jesus is pointing out how hypocritical we can be when we go around pointing out everyone else’s faults. He’s holding up a mirror and asking us to take a look – what do you see?

One misconception of this teaching would be to say that we should never point out other people’s problems to them. That’s not what Jesus says. In verse 5, He tells us to first remove the plank from our own eye, and then we will be able to see clearly enough to help our friend remove the speck from their eye. You’ve heard the saying, “It takes one to know one.” When it comes to seeing other people’s issues, the reason we can so quickly recognize them is because we live with the same issues in our own lives every day. So, Jesus simple tells us to remember we’re probably worse off than our friends, so we need to deal with our stuff and then help others.

I think the process of dealing with our own junk also provides the humility we need to truly help someone else. If we truly recognize the plank in our own eye, then we can help our friends remove the speck. Knowing we’re really in no position to judge them – we can simply help them.

So, take a peak in the mirror – what planks are you struggling to see around? Why not let others help you with those issues and in turn you’ll be able to help others – in humility and love.



Anonymous said...

So what happens when there isn't a plank from judgement, but a bitter heart from jealousy? How do you remove that?

Anonymous said...

So I posted this comment, and it didn't take? Or did it and now there are two? Either way, my question, forget the plank...I'm not judging...I'm jealous, how do you remove the bitterness in your heart that comes from being jealous?

Dave said...

That's a great question, and this may take some dialogue to really get it all figured out.

I don't think the "plank" has to be judgement. It can be anything we struggle with in our lives - anger, lust, jealousy, etc. Jesus' point is don't go around trying to "cure" everyone else's jealousy (or whatever else it may be) as if you don't have the same problem.

To me, jealousy is the result of not being content. When I'm jealous, it's because I'm not happy with what I have, so I want what someone else has. To get the discussion going, I think we have to focus on the root not the result.

Why are you not content?

As a guy, I typically struggle with wanting the latest and greatest gadgets (like the Mac Air notebook or a Blu-ray DVD player). So, I have to make a conscience effort not to get caught up in the keeping-up-with-the-latest-and-greatest game. What about you? Why are you not content? Or do you think I'm off base on this?


Anonymous said...

While I have a lot to say, I think this could provide some interesting conversations with those who read. What is the root of my problem? I covet my neighbor's things. I am not content, you are 100% correct, and I do beleive that is what causes us to be jealous. However, the question remains, how do I change my bitter heart? Prayer, of course, but what if you don't feel like praying? What if, you just want to give up, (not in a suicidal way, but just quit) What if you just want to exist because the pain of really living as you have suggested in previous blogs is too painful. I get it, if you don't feel the pain, you can't feel the glory either....and sometimes, I wonder if that's okay. Sure, I may miss out on some exceptional things, but I can also save some pain. I'm just tired.

Dave said...

Anonymous - I can "hear" the sorrow in your words. As a guy, I can be quick to try and "fix things", but I'm not sure that's what you really need - for me to try and fix your issues (not that I really could anyway).

What I think would be more helpful is for you to know you have a friend in me. I don't think we've ever actually meet, but that doesn't mean I cannot care about what you care about.

This is going to be a bit long, but I'd like to share the most painful part of my life with you. In January 1996 my world was turned upside down by one phone call. It was my wife calling me at work from her doctor's office. She was nine months pregnant with our second daughter, Jamie. I could barely understand a word she said, but it was obvious there was something wrong. I jumped in my car and raced to the doctor's office to learn that our duaghter was gone - there was no heartbeat.

The next day we went to the hospital and my wife delivered our stillborn daughter.

The day after that I can remeber stepping out of the shower getting ready to go to the funeral home to plan my daughter's burial. I had never truly understood how anyone could consider dying to be better than living - until that day. This may sound a bit strange, but the moment I had that thought I also felt a warmth come over my body - it was as if God Himself was hugging me.

This did NOT make it all better. The pain of life was very real for a very long time (and still hurts sometimes - over 12 years later), but it did give me the strength I needed to get through that day, and the next, and the next.

What does this have to do with you? I, too, felt like giving up. I too thought maybe just existing - unattached - would be easier. But I don't think that's true. I think life truly sucks sometimes, but attempting to just avoid it doesn't really protect us - it just makes us more isolated and lonely.

What I needed was to connect with people who could cry with me during these rough times (and celebrate with me during the good times).

I don't know if this helps you at all. And, again, I'm not trying to solve your issues. But I share this with you to say I understand what real pain is about. I know what it feels like to have your entire world crash in around you. So, in whatever way I can, I want to walk this journey with you.


'tis i said...

Hello Anonymous,
I think you have an issue with delayed gratification. May I suggest that you came to this feeling gradually over a period of time and can't expect to just turn a prayer and have it disappear.

I don't mean to pick at your speck with my plank, but I felt the same exasperation dealing with my anger.

It is taking a lot of conscious effort. I've learned that my anger wasn't from what others did and said, but from my personal insecurities. As Dave said, in the original post, "the reason we can so quickly recognize others' faults is because we live with the same issues." I found different methods that others have used to control anger. I read scads of self help books, asked others, prayed, and gradually started feeling better about myself. Consequently my anger is not so easily triggered. I continue to work and progress. Not every word read or heard is helpful. I sifted through a lot of straw to find the few needles that have sewn my recovery, thus far.

I asked a friend, "If I have faith in God, and God has faith in me; shouldn't I have faith in myself?"
My friend gave me these passages.

[Luke 21:19]By your perseverance you will win.

[Hebrews 10:35-36] Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

I pray there is something here you can take for your own.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your posts. More importantly, thank you all for being transparent, something I am sad to say so few people are these days. I deeply appreciate the personal stories and the willingness to walk the journey, to pray, and to have faith for me when I can't seem to find it myself. I think you are exactly right that I do pray and expect immediate results. I understand too that this is a broken world and ther are events already set in motion that God "could/can" change, at the same time that is not who God is, to immediately change something because we don't like it. I don't know that it's so much insecurities on my part--although that isn't so far from the truth either. My recent search of faithlessness (?) brought me to this blog (okay, probably God did, but it's hard to imagine that God somehow led me to this blog....although, why not? God can be high-tech too, right?)anyway, my recent search brought me here because of things I can not control such as death and then being jealous of others because they do not suffer. NOT THAT I WANT SOMEONE ELSE TO SUFFER the pain of death, that is not what I am saying. I am saying though because I have suffered several losses over the past few years, it seems that I have become very bitter and jealous of the fact it seems my family has had more than there share.One example in my immedite life is that I had a miscarriage (after hearing the baby's heartbeat) and now for whatever reason, they can't explain why I can't get pregnant again. So at this point, it's more of why does it seem others have no prolems with this (although I know many women do) but I do? I think it's more of why does it seem that others can go through life without a care and have everything go right and then there are some who no matter what they try can not seem to get ahead. (I'm not just talking about myself there, as I actually have a pretty decent life compared to many) But a question in general. I don't know that there are answers to the "whys" in life, or explanations for circumstances. That said, how do you endure? I don't want to be the victim, I know we all have our problems and recnetly heard this morning there are only two kinds of "fair" The county fair and the state fair. However, it just sucks. Hmmm...I guess also, after reading and thinking about what I'm writing, I see I'm also very selfish. This blog has been littered with "I" statements. So, all that to say, what do you do? Just go on and hope that the next day is better and that in the end the reward will be worht the struggle? Sure, but to actually really live that and to actually REALLY beleive that in your heart is not easily accomplished.

Dave said...


Thanks for your openness as well. That is my prayer for this blog - that people can come and be real. That they can share their true feelings. Way too many Christians have been duped into thinking that they have to paint on the plastic smile and pretend everything is okay - when the truth is, it's not okay.

God can handle our honesty - in fact, that's what He desires most - an honest, open relationship.

I'm sorry for you loss - as you now know I do have some idea what that is like - however, I would never minimize your circumstances with a pat "I know how you feel", because I truly don't know how you feel. But I do know how I felt going through a similar life event.

One of the parts of my journey that I didn't share earlier, was when we lost Jamie I was really upset with God - I'm not sure I was mad, just confused & hurt. At that point I had to make a decision - and this may sound a bit crude, but it's an accurate decription of how I felt - I was either going to give God the finger and tell Him to leave me the hell alone, or I was going to have to lean into Him with every part of who I am. By God's grace, I chose to trust Him.

Do I trust 100% of the time? Nope, I still grab the reigns from time-to-time, but I'm getting better at letting go quicker when I realize that's what I've done.

Faith is a funny thing - it's like falling in love, you can't really explain it, but you know when you experience it.

I'm praying you'll continue to be honest with God, to beg Him to reveal His plans and purpose for your life. I believe He will, and I believe you'll find the peace you are looking for. Not because the world will miraculously get all better (it won't) but because you'll find the faith you need to trust God with everything - whether you understand it or not.

That sounds like a blind faith, but it's really not - it's faith in the One who you come to know you can trust because of all He provides (especially peace that is beyond understanding).

Well, this post is way too long already, but I'm really enjoying this conversation. I'm praying for you!!