Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is 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 neighbour’s eye.’
First take the log out of your own eye.
The majority of us struggle with our human weakness, both physical and intellectual. From birth we have been encouraged to develop a shield around ourselves, a shield that shows everyone just how strong we are. As we grow into adulthood our certainty hardens until we emerge as fully-fledged adults with unmoveable opinions on almost everything. In effect, we grow into people who do not only think that we know better than those amongst whom we live out our daily lives, but also into people who believe we know better than God.
From the moral high ground upon which we position ourselves, we soon turn to criticizing. We look at others and see ‘difference’ as a cause for criticism and castigation. We judge others by our own standards. We put ourselves in the place of God. Even the most faithful of Christians are ensnared in this way. Their fixed views on what it means to be a ‘Christian’ become weaponised, a stick with which they beat others. Their beliefs and preferences cause Church communities to become set in concrete, a substance which is hard and unrelenting.
In today’s reading Jesus is cautioning us against this attitude. Jesus is telling us not to set ourselves up as judges over the behaviours and opinions of others. He is reminding us that while we may think that our ways and words are without fault and blemish, God may well be viewing us in a very different light.
On so many occasions, those who gather in churches for worship are a divided community. Every person sitting in the pews considers themselves to be faithful followers of Christ and yet, so often, they are harbouring thoughts of anger, criticism or resentment. They are judging others to be inadequate whilst congratulating themselves for their piety and devotion. This is the very attitude Jesus is cautioning against today.
I pray that we might set aside the pride of self-regard and seek God’s forgiveness for our many faults and failings. I pray that we might stop setting ourselves up as judge and jury in respect of our neighbours. I pray that we might worship God in true purity of heart.