Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ammunition: Sawdust and Logs

I'd like to briefly discuss a problem that plagues churches. This post may not be very long but it couldn't be of more importance. We all have most likely read or heard a lesson on judging others (mostly how it's bad). One of the most cited scriptures for this comes out of The Sermon on the Mount beginning in chapter 7. 

If you haven't noticed, I've been on a real SOTM kick recently. I started using concepts out of this sermon before I even realized I was doing it. Now that I have noticed, I've been digging deeper and am just finding so very much there. Anyway, serious side note to simply say: go dig in the SOTM and let it shape your life, it's well worth it. 

BACK TO JUDGING. Jesus uses one of the coolest, and honestly funniest, metaphors when talking about this subject: The speck and the plank (I really like when they translate it "log").  Jesus tells his audience not to judge others unless they are willing to undergo the same scrutiny. To illustrate this, He talks about how you shouldn't go around trying to help people with a speck in their eye when you yourself have a giant log sticking out of your own eye. I kind of imagine Jesus acting this out with a tree limb or a walking staff myself, probably getting a decent chuckle from those listening. 

This might just be one of the most misused scriptures in all the Bible. Think about the last time you heard this outside of a lesson. I personally hear this quite a bit in this type of connotation, "Hey, get the log out of your eye before you try to find the speck in mine." This type of use of these words is so very common today. We use it to tell other people to stop judging us. Is that not the most ironic thing you've heard in a while? We literally use a verse about not judging others to judge others. 

We don't do this with just this scripture; we have a tendency to do this with the rest of the Bible as well. Think about your personal reading of scripture. Have you ever read something and thought, "Man, so-and-so needs to read that"? I SURELY know that I have. We too often approach the Bible like we're scrounging for bullets with which to fight our spiritual warfare. Even now, be honest with yourself...did someone pop into your head thus far in this blog post that you think might need to read it?

What is so amazingly obvious about Jesus' words in Matthew 7 is that they are completely about self-inspection. We're supposed to check OUR eye for a log before we go looking for specks of sawdust in our brother or sister's eye. 

Now, some people take this a little far and say we should never correct. There's a difference between judging and correcting. Galatians 6:1-2 reminds us that we are to be helping restore others with a spirit of gentleness, while keeping watch on ourselves so that we aren't tempted as well. I don't think what Paul has in mind is that you are tempted with the problem your brother or sister is facing. Instead, I think Paul is concerned with you being tempted to think you are better because you are the spiritual person trying to restore someone caught in a transgression. 

I think there's a time and place for restoring, but I think it's easy to be tempted and mess it up. So, we must err on the side of grace. As Billy Graham said, "It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge, and my job to love."

I also find it interesting that when you look at Jesus and how He handled this type of thing, MOST of his harsh words were saved for the self-righteous religious leaders who went about judging others and acting hypocritically. Jesus admonished the "sinners" to go and do so no more, but did so with graceful speech and a whole lot of love. 

So, when you are reading scripture, don't be on the look out for ammunition. Instead, read it to better yourself. After that, share how God has used scripture to impact and better you and hope that others will follow your example and not just your words. 

Judge Not, So That You May Not Be Judged - Matthew 7:1

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