Luke 6:41-42 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
This common and popular scripture usually takes our thoughts in the direction of not judging others. We all know that we have our own “stuff” to deal with, but a closer look at this part of God’s word doesn’t simply say, “Don’t judge others.”
It really says that while we are noticing other’s problems and weaknesses, we need to do two things. First, we need to let God deal with our problems and weaknesses, which are presented here as far greater than the problems of other folks (planks are a whole lot larger than specks). This scripture reminds us to look at ourselves in the light of the Lord and with humility, and then we will see that we have plank-sized issues that need addressing.
But it’s part two of the scripture that tends to get overlooked. Once we’ve placed ourselves in a humble position and seen our own weaknesses in His light, we’re now positioned to actually help the other person. The scripture doesn’t say to ignore the other person’s problems because we have our own issues to deal with. It says that we need to get a properly humble perspective on our and their problems so that we are able to help them. The end action described here is removing the speck in our brother’s eye.
Once we deal with our own planks, we can see clearly to remove the speck. Planks in the eye will obviously distort our vision, and removing a speck from someone else’s eye would take all the visual acuity and accuracy we can muster.
There are many ironies in the tension between our sinful world and the kingdom of God. One is that our own sinfulness causes us to view other’s sins inaccurately, and renders us unable to help. Once we take a low place and let God work in us, we are equipped—and called—to help others. Once the plank is gone, our spiritual perspective is cleared up, and we have the grace, love and wisdom to know how to help others.
Perhaps one good corollary here is that if we don’t have that grace, love and wisdom to help someone, we might still have the plank.
Prayer: Lord, help me to see the many planks that I have, not just so that I don’t judge, but so I can actually help someone else. Please remind me by Your spirit when my planks are getting in the way.