Planks and Specks


“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.” Matthew 7:5

The boys are quick to tattle on each other, especially when they think I can’t see what’s going on, which usually happens to be when we’re in the car. I’m in the front seat driving, of course. They’re in the back and I have limited visibility of them. Without fail, every so often, one of them will pipe up, “He’s not buckled,” to which I will turn and look and sure enough the one accused is not buckled, but often the accuser is not either. Buckle your own seatbelt before telling on the one who’s not buckled ya know? I tell them often, take care of yourself before worrying about your brother. If each of them focused more on doing what they know to know and less on trying to get their brother in trouble, no one would ever get in trouble for not doing what they know to know, right?

I remember when I was child, sitting around the dining room table and peeking during the prayer. This one time I saw my older sister peeking too and immediately after the “Amen,” told on her in my bratty younger sister way. “Leslie had her eyes open during the prayer.” And then I waited for her to get in trouble. Except that was actually quite the dumb move on my part because how was I to know unless I, too, had my eyes open. I didn’t think that one through fully, did I?

Christians — and non-believers, too, I think — are familiar with the idea of not judging others lest you be judged, or like the verse in Matthew says — take care of yourself before worrying about others. It’s the go-to verse for “don’t judge.”

But I heard a new application of this verse a while back. What if we do what it says. What if we get the plank out of our eye? What are we to do if we address the thing that is offensive and/or is offending us. Well, according to this verse, we have not only the right but the ability to help those around us with the specks that are plaguing them. In fact, this speaker went on to say that it’s because we have seen and dealt with our planks that we  are able to recognize others’ specks. Hmmm. Something to think about. Done in this way, it’s not with judgment but with compassion and empathy that we can say to others, “I’ve been where you are, let me tell you about my plank …” and hopefully we can be of aid to them.

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