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)
In His magnificent Sermon on the Mount, our Lord Jesus used holy hyperbole to make a powerful point. Before you spend time trying to remove a tiny speck of dust from your friend’s eye, Jesus said, take a moment to remove the massive plank from your own eye. In other words, Jesus was telling all of us that we are often blind to our own shortcomings, so instead of focusing on the faults of others, we ought to examine ourselves. When we do that, we will recognize that we fall woefully short of God’s goal for our lives each and every day. There’s plenty of work for us to do internally before we can even think about looking to “fix” someone else!
Jesus made this point in a profound way when the religious leaders brought the woman whom they claimed had been “caught in the act of adultery” to Him. Now, being caught in the act of adultery presupposes two people, but nowhere do we read about them bringing the man too. Scripture tells us that the reason the teachers of the law did this was to establish a basis to accuse Jesus.
How did Jesus respond to their “plank perspective”?
[He] said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7 ESV).
Of course, the only person in the group who was without sin was Jesus. Jesus was the only One who had the right to cast judgment upon this woman, and He did. He did not excuse the woman’s adultery, but He did say that He did not condemn her; then He told her, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
Jesus was not telling His people to forsake judgment; He did acknowledge that there will be specks in the eyes of others, for there is no one who does not sin (1 Kings 8:46). We are called to speak the truth in love and to offer help, encouragement, and even rebuke to others . . . in love. But before we can help anyone, we must first let Jesus help us to come to terms with our own faults, sins, and shortcomings.
Remember, the problem with a plank perspective is that is we simply cannot see clearly. We must honestly face up to the true condition of our hearts, which is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9); then we can, with love in our hearts and in our eyes, look to others to help, heal, and provide hope.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!