What on Earth have we done with the Teachings of Jesus?
Jesus often spoke in parables. Earthly stories with deep heavenly meanings. There are those in the world who are like lost sheep. Those who need to be restored back to the fold. As Jesus told these few parables, He spoke in the presence of the religious leaders of the day – the Pharisees. They, like many religious leaders today, thought they had the monopoly on the grace of God and believed their place was secure in heaven. But Jesus came to challenge their self-righteous beliefs and call the ones who felt they had been forgotten. The speck and the log.
Never Judge What joy follows self-conquest. Others you cannot conquer and control Until you have completely conquered yourself; Until you are indeed whole. Can you see yourselves absolutely unmoved? Is this to you perhaps almost absurd? Yet think of me before mocking soldiers, being struck Spat upon and answering not a word. Try to see that as Divine Power Remember by that Power of perfect silence, perfect self-control You can alone prove your right to govern In Me it is an achievable goal. The heart of man is so delicate, so complex Only its Maker can of it truly know Each heart is so very different, never judge Be a perfect channel so My love I can freely bestow. How can one judge of another? Leave to Me the unravelling of the puzzles of life. Leave to Me the teaching of understanding. On your part let there be no strife. Bring each heart to Me, its Maker. Leave it with Me, you can with joy delight Secure in the certainty that all that is wrong I can set aright. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
The Speck and the Log
Jesus said, “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? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 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.
Henry says – Our Saviour is here directing us how to conduct ourselves in reference to the faults of others. In so doing He was condemning those who are proud and conceited in justifying themselves. In this there is a caution against judging Matt. 7:1, 2. There are those whose office it is to judge, namely the magistrates and ministers but for us all Christ warns against it – Judge not.
We must judge ourselves and our own acts, but we must not judge our brother. We must not magisterially assume such an authority over another nor allow them to over us. The rule is to be subject to one another. Let there not be many masters, Jas. 3:1. We must not sit in the judgment-seat, to make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge our brother by speaking evil of him, so it is explained, (Jas. 4:11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another).
Why do you treat him with contempt
We must not despise him, nor set him at nought, (Rom. 14:10 why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat). We must not judge rashly, nor pass such a judgment upon our brother without grounds, as this is only the product of our own jealousy and ill nature. To make the worst of people nor infer such discriminating things from their words and actions will bring us under judgment.
We must not judge uncharitably, unmercifully nor desire to do mischief nor judge of a man’s state by a single act. Nor must we judge what he is by what he is to us, because in our own cause we are apt to be partial. We must not judge the hearts of others, nor their intentions, for it is God’s prerogative to try the heart. Nor must we step into His throne and judge their eternal state. We must not call them hypocrites, reprobates and castaways. But counsel him and help him, but do not judge him.
The reason to enforce this is that you be not judged. This intimates that if we presume to judge others, we may expect to be judged ourselves. He who usurps the bench, shall be called to the bar. Everyone will have a stone to throw at them. He who, like Ishmael, has his hand and tongue, against every man, shall have every man’s hand and tongue against him (Gen. 16:12).
The merciful shall find mercy
There shall be no mercy shown to the reputation of those who show no mercy to the reputation of others. Yet that is not the worst of it. They shall be judged by God. From Him they shall receive the greater condemnation, Jas. 3:1. Both parties must appear before Him (Rom. 14:10). Just as God will relieve the humble sufferer, so will He also resist the haughty scorner. If we be modest and charitable in our censures of others, and decline judging them, then we shall not be judged of the Lord.
As God will forgive those who forgive their brethren, so He will not judge those who will not judge their brethren. The merciful shall find mercy. It is an evidence of humility, charity and deferral to God, and shall be owned and rewarded by Him accordingly.
The judging of those who judge others is according to the law of retaliation. With what judgment you judge, you shall be judged, Matt. 7:2. The righteous God, in His judgments, often observes a rule of proportion, as in the case of Adonibezek, Jdg. 1:7. See also (Rev. 13:10 if anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed). Thus He will be justified and magnified in His judgments, and all flesh will be silenced before Him. With what measure you give out, it shall be measured to you again. This perhaps in this world, so that men may know their sin from their punishment.
There is no little God to sin against
Let this deter us from all severity in dealing with our brother. What shall we do when God rises up? Job 31:14. What would become of us, if God should be as exact and severe in judging us, as we are in judging our brethren? We may expect that it will be extreme if we mark what our brothers and sisters do wrong. In this, as in other things, the violent dealings of men return upon their own heads.
Although we must not judge others, which is a great sin, it does not mean that we must not reproach others. For this is our great duty, and may be a means of saving a soul from death. It may also be a means of saving our own soul from sharing in their guilt.
But not everyone is fit to reprove. If someone is guilty of the same faults of which they accuse others, then they bring shame upon themselves. It is not likely to do any good to those whom they reprove, Matt. 7:3-5.
Those who quarrel with their brother for small faults, while they allow themselves to wallow in great faults. They are short-sighted to spy out a speck in his eye, but are not aware of the beam in their own. They are even very busy trying to pull out the speck out of his eye, when they are unfit to do it. There are degrees in sin. Some sins are comparatively specks, others are as beams. Some like a gnat, others like a camel. Not that there is any little sin, for there is no little God to sin against.
If it be a speck or splinter, it is in the eye. If a gnat, it is in the throat. Both are painful and perilous, and we cannot be at ease until they are got out. Our own sins ought to appear greater to us than the same sins in others. That which charitableness teaches us to call a splinter in our brother’s eye, though true repentance and godly sorrow teaches us to call a beam in our own. For the sins of others must be extenuated, but our own aggravated.
Spiritual charity must begin at home
There are many who have beams in their own eyes, and yet do not consider them. They are under the guilt and dominion of very great sins, and yet are not aware of them. They justify themselves as if they do not need to repent or reform. It is as strange that a man can be in such a sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it. But the god of this world has so artfully blinded their minds.
It is common for those who are the most sinful to be the least aware of it and yet be the most forward and free in judging others. The religious leaders were most haughty in justifying themselves and the most scornful in condemning others. They were severe on Christ’s disciples for eating with unwashed hands, which was scarcely a speck. Pride and uncharitableness are common beams in the eyes of those who pretend to be critical and nice toward others. Many are guilty of that secret, which they attempt to punish in others. This is a mark of hypocrisy. You hypocrite, Matt. 7:5.
Whatever one may pretend, it is certain that he is no enemy to sin. To even be an enemy to his brother makes him worthy of blame. This spiritual charity must begin at home; “For how can you say to your brother, Let me help to reform you, when you take no care to reform yourself? Your own heart will convict you with the absurdity of it.
Considering what is wrong in ourselves ought to keep us from being a supreme judge of others. But not keep us from administering a friendly reproof in love where needed. “Therefore restore with spirit of meekness, and consider yourself (Gal. 6:1); what you have been, what you are, and what you would be, if God should leave you to yourself.”
First I must reform myself
Here is a good rule for reprovers, Matt. 7:5. Go in the right method, first take the beam out of your own eye. Our own badness should not be an excuse in not reproving others. Believing we are unfit to reprove is an aggravation of our badness. I must not say, “I have a beam in my own eye, and therefore I will not help my brother with the speck in his.” I must first reform myself, that I may help to reform my brother, and may qualify myself to reprove him.
Those who blame others, ought to be blameless and harmless themselves. Those who are reprovers in the gate, reprovers by office, magistrates and ministers should be concerned to walk uprightly. An elder must have a good report, 1 Tim. 3:2, 7.
Not everyone is fit to be reproved: Do not give what is holy to the dogs, Matt. 7:6. This may be considered as a rule to the disciples in preaching the gospel. Not that they should not preach it to anyone who is wicked and profane (Christ Himself preached to drunkards and sinners). But to those who were obstinate after the gospel has been preached to them. Those who blasphemed it and persecuted the preachers of it. Let them not spend much time among them, for it would be lost labour, but let them turn to others, Acts 13:41.
It is a tree of like
Our zeal against sin must be guided by discretion, and we must not go about giving instructions, counsels and rebukes or even comforts, to hardened scorners. For them it will do no good, but only serve to exasperate and enrage them toward us. Throw a pearl to a swine, and he will resent it, as if you threw a stone at him.
Good counsel and reproof are a holy thing – a pearl. They are ordinances of God and are precious. Just as an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold, so is the wise reprover (Prov. 25:12). A wise reproof is like an excellent oil (Ps. 141:5). It is a tree of life (Prov. 3:18).
Among the generation of the wicked, there are some who have arrived at such a pitch of wickedness that they are looked upon as dogs and swine. They are impudently and notoriously vile and have so long walked in the way of sinners that they have sat down in the seat of the scornful. Professedly they hate and despise instruction, and set it at defiance, so that they are irrecoverably and irreclaimably wicked. They return with the dog to his vomit, and with the sow to her wallowing in the mire.
Heed calling the good, bad
Reproofs of instruction to them exposes the reprover to all the contempt and trouble that may be expected from dogs and swine. One can expect that they will trample the reproofs under their feet and rage against them. They lack self-control and will turn again against them. They will seek to ruin their good names and persecute them by returning wounding words for their healing ones.
The evidence of a man being a dog and swine is that they hate reproofs and reprovers. They fly in the face of those who, in kindness to their souls, show them their sin and danger. They will sin against the remedy.
Yet we must be very cautious whom we condemn as dogs and swine, and not do it till after trial, and upon full evidence. Many a patient is lost, who if means had been used, might have been saved. We must take heed of calling the good, bad and the bad, desperate. Our Lord Jesus is very tender toward the safety of His people. He would not have them needlessly expose themselves to the fury of those who will turn again and break them. Christ makes the law of self-preservation His own responsibility and precious is the blood of His subjects to Him.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. May I never assume a supreme authority over another nor allow them to do so over me. But may I always follow the rule of ‘being subject to one another’. May I never make the worst of someone, nor infer discriminating things from their words and actions. Cause me to cease from judging the hearts and intentions of others, for it is Your prerogative to try the heart. May I always be modest and charitable in my censorship of others, and decline judging them. In so doing I know I will be free of judgement. For the merciful shall find mercy.
May I have a life that has the evidence of humility, charity and deferral to You, and so shall I be owned and rewarded by You. However where You prompt me, may I be willing in love to reproach another. For this is our great duty, and may be a means of saving a soul from death.
Cause my own sins to always appear greater to me than the same sins in others. May the sins of others be extenuated and my own be aggravated in my eyes. Cause there never to be a hint of hypocrisy in my heart. But may I always consider what is wrong in me and so keep me from being a supreme judge of others. Yet I thank You for the cross that covers all our sins. Help me first reform myself, that I may help to reform my brothers and sisters, and may qualify myself to reprove him. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.