Google+ 12/18/12 Plank Free!

Matthew 7:1-5

 

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.

For you will be treated as you treat others.

The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?

How can you think of saying to your friend,

‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye;

Then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. 

 

I have become intently concerned about what the Bible refers to as "false prophets" and their interpretation of Scripture.  Unfortunately, a large majority of these misinterpretations come from many pulpits in modern day churches in a feeble and misguided attempt not to "offend" anyone with God's truth.  Our very familiar Scripture lesson today is one of those passages that has "Biblical traps" built into it if we are not willing to spend the time and research what Jesus is really saying.  Our Scripture passage today is one of those places where Matthew is quoting Jesus, directly.  These words actually came out of Jesus' mouth.  If you are not careful, you will miss the paradox in the first two lines.  The opening line of our Scripture today says plainly, "Do not judge."  If you have been anywhere near a church in the last year, you have heard this admonition from the pulpit.  The problem is, that like most Scripture, if you don't keep reading, you will make serious errors in interpretation.  "Judge not" as written in the original Greek referred to as not making an unfavorable or condemnatory judgment.  It did not mean, as often interpreted, that Christians should not exercise judgment of any kind under any circumstance.  Want proof?  Read the next line of our Scripture lesson.  Jesus says, "The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged."  So are we supposed to judge?  Of course we are!  The problem is that the person we are supposed to evaluate first, is not our neighbor.  We must first use Christ to judge ourselves.  The Bible speaks often of different kinds of self-evaluation, using Jesus Christ as our standard.  Our promise is that all of us will "fall short of the Glory of God."  So many have interpreted our Scripture for today as meaning that "I'm Okay, You're Okay," quoting from a very popular 70's book.   Jesus and Matthew never intended for any of us to come to this conclusion.  Rather, the next part of the passage explains what the true intent was.  We must examine, through careful use of judgment, what "planks" are in our own eyes.  By removing these false perceptions and misconceptions, we will be better equipped and able to help our fellowman.  Don't miss the last line of our Scripture today.  Once we have removed these "planks" from our own eyes, we will be able to see well enough to help our neighbor.  So, we are supposed to help our neighbor with this?  Isn't that judging?  Respectfully, that would be a "yes" and a "no."  Yes, we are supposed to help our neighbor by speaking the truth in love.  We should share the "revelations" Christ has bestowed on us in removing the "planks" we have accumulated in our eyes with years of deceiving by Satan.  I have often told my kids that they need not make all the mistakes in the world today.  They can simply learn from their Dad about all the mistakes I have made, and take care not to repeat them!  Finally, no it is not "judging" to tell the truth in love.  Don't miss this point in your daily life or in your Local New Testament church.  There is, according to Scripture, right and wrong.  Allowing your neighbor or yourself to continue to pursue "wrong" in the name of "not judging" has tragic, long-term consequences.  Like many things in our world, it may "feel good" now, but on the day of judgment it is going to be painful.  Ask yourself why you attend a Local New Testament church, and you will find that one of the answers IS NOT so you can be lied to, with or about.  We get enough of that in the world.  Our Family of God needs to be meticulous lumberjacks in helping with "plank removal."  You can't use a chain saw!  You must skillfully remove "the plank" without damaging the eye.  That takes lots of God's love and patience.  Let Christ be the "great plank remover" for you and your neighbor. If you are "plank-free," you will be surprised how much your vision will improve!