“Why do you look at 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,’ and behold, 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 brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
As we continue through the 10 Days of Awe before Yom Kippur, we should be reflecting on our lives to see what we need to correct.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32 tells us that if we judge ourselves rightly then we won’t be judged by G-d. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, the day that, in the teachings of the sages, G-d is expected to judge the world. By judging ourselves rightly against His Word now, we won’t come under His condemnation later.
Matthew 7:3-5 speaks about judging ourselves instead of judging others. It gives us a way to correct our own life so we may better serve our community by encouraging a brother or sister to live a holy life.
The first thing our Messiah questions is why we are even doing this. What are the motives for seeing sin in the life of our brother? Is it because we’re a busybody? As mentioned last week, we are not called to judge critically or harshly. Rather we do so with mercy and for the purpose of turning someone from sin to repentance and restoration.
We are not being commanded to not see the faults in our brothers and sisters, but to look for the right reason. It should be with the purpose of building the ekklesia and restoring a member of the community who has fallen into sin.
We need to restore that person gently (Galatians 6:1). Proverbs 15:1 tell us that gentle words turn away anger but harsh words stir up wrath. We need to speak gently, or without anger and malice, when dealing with a fellow believer. They deserve that respect and care from us. To spew out hateful words may only push them away.
But we should not be blind to sin no matter where it lies. Especially within the community, in our family, it affects each of us. Joshua 7 tells the story of Achan who brought sin into the community. He caused Israel to lose a battle because he coveted and stole the spoils from the Battle Jericho. These items belonged to the L-rd and were consecrated to Adonai. Achan’s sin resulted in the defeat of Israel and the death of some of her warriors. That sin had to be purged from the camp before Israel could continue the conquest of the Promised Land.
When looking for sin, we are to look first into our own lives. As said before, we are to be our own worst critic so that neither G-d nor man will have to judge us. Scripture is given to us for teaching, correction and training in righteousness. We can use that to correctly identify sin and error in our life (2 Timothy 3:16).
James 1:23 tells us to use the Word as a mirror than can point out blemishes we need to correct. To look into the Word and be a doer of what it says will lead to blessings from Adonai.
If we refuse to take care of ourselves first then we have no authority to care for someone else. This does not mean that we have to be perfect in order to approach someone about sin. But we must recognize and admit that we are also sinners. This is what keeps us humble when dealing with someone else. We realize that we are not far from their position.
But to keep sin in our own lives and try to remove sin from someone else is fruitless. We may be able to convince them to turn because the Ruach HaKodesh will turn their hearts. But it could also open you up to charges of hypocrisy if your sin is brought out while counseling someone with the same sin.
Our sin may even be bigger than we recognize but we can be so intent on finding sin in others that we don’t realize it. This verse speaks of a small speck of dust in or brothers eye but we’re so consumed with their fault that we can’t recognize the beam that is in our eye.
King David found himself in this position after his transgression with Bathsheba. G-d confronted him by sending in the Prophet Nathan who, in 2 Samuel 12, informed him that one of his subjects had stolen a lamb from his neighbor.
David was greatly angered. He was ready to impose the death penalty on an act that, according to Torah, would only have required restitution. His sin had caused him to act unjustly and harshly condemn another while he, himself, was guilty of something far greater.
Nathan told David that his actions gave the enemies of the L-rd occasion to blaspheme. They could point at David as talking about living holy and trusting in Adonai while rejecting His Word and commands. They could claim that G-d was not real since His followers could get away with not obeying Him.
David had become a hypocrite. The term refers to the actors in the Greek and Roman plays that had speaking parts. They were just actors that pretended to do and know about other things. They had no real commitment to the role they played. When the show was over, they became someone else.
In order to remove the beam from our own eye, we must be concerned first with ourselves and our own walk with Adonai. We cannot be like the Greek play actors who had no real knowledge of their part. We must be authenticate. We must be faithful and truthful with Adonai and each other.
Only after confessing and dealing with sin in our own life will we have the proper perspective to approach a brother or sister about the sin in their life.
Once we recognize that we are also sinners in need of forgiveness then we can restore a brother with a spirit of meekness. This should be done first in private and then before the community (Matthew 18:15-17).
We are called to be our brother’s keepers. We are called to live in community and be accountable to our brothers and sisters. Our Messiah died to bring us forgiveness and expects us to forgive and restore others.
Blessed are You, O L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who judges us with justice, righteousness and mercy.