The Gospel of Matthew: Specks and Logs.

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3–5 (ESV)

Have you ever had a speck of dust in your eye? Perhaps an eyelash? I’m sure you have. It hurts and is most uncomfortable. A speck (κάρφος; karphos) refers to a small piece of sawdust or a splinter of wood. It is foreign matter that needs to be removed before it causes lasting damage to the eye.

Jesus encouraged His disciples to help a brother in Christ. They do so by removing the speck in their brother’s eye. The speck, in this context, refers to a particular sin. It may seem like such a small thing, but it can cause lasting damage.

However, before the disciple of Jesus removes a sinful speck from a brother’s eye, they must first remove the log that is in their own eye. A log (δοκός; dokos) is a beam of wood or timber. It is a plank. Planks can range in measurement from 2 x 8 inches, 2 x 10, and even 2 x 12. By comparison, a log is obviously larger than a speck.

The application is simple. A disciple who seeks to help another brother in Christ deal with their sin, but first address his own. There must be a realization that the helper’s sin is much larger in comparison to the one who is in need of help with their sin.

“Jesus is actually warning us to be fair and humble when we make our evaluations. Human beings are naturally prone to focus on the failings of others and ignore their own heinous sins. Consider David’s reaction to Nathan after he slept with Bathsheba and had Uriah murdered (2 Sam. 11:1–12:15a). The king did more evil than the man in Nathan’s parable, but David wanted to chase after the speck in that man’s eye, so blinded was he by the plank of his own sin.” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

John Chrysostom (347 – 407) says, “Jesus does not forbid judging but commands that one first remove the plank from one’s own eye” (Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, 23.2).

We must be harsher on ourselves than we are on others. Let us make sure our consciences are clear before we judge our brothers and sisters. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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