Written Sermons & Bible Studies

Judge not the Spec

Last week, we talked about following our Savior Jesus Christ by following the
teachings of Jesus. But the teachings of Jesus can be difficult for us mere human
beings. One of the most difficult teachings is found in Matthew 7:1-5.

Matthew 7:1-5 Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment
you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3
Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own
eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while
the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and
then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

In this passage, Jesus delivers a difficult message on judgment and self-reflection.
Jesus urges us to look at own faults before noticing the faults of others.

When Jesus said this, people lived in an age of endless social competition and
jockeying for status. Judging others was accepted and promoted in their society. A
person gained status by out-competing others and putting others down. Jesus
pointed out the hypocrisy of their behavior. Did they not see their obvious faults, as
big as a log? Jesus emphasized the serious consequences they would face. He said
they would be judged on the same measure they judged others.

We even saw this competitive dynamic among the disciples. While Jesus was
washing their feet, they were arguing about who would sit at the right hand of Jesus

when he was triumphant. I don’t think the disciples were very concerned with
examining their own lives before they cast criticisms towards others. Listening to
Jesus teach on judgment would have been a difficult teaching for a first century
man. The disciples wanted to have seats of honor next to Jesus, but the Kingdom of
Heaven operates on different principles. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
Therefore, Jesus instructed his followers to take judgment very seriously and to
examine oneself long before examining another. Jesus challenged the prevailing
attitudes of judgment and legalism.
When judging, the measure of judgment is important. God measures our lives with
grace, mercy and love. Do we use different measures to measure the life of another
person? The teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount suggest that God will
use the same measures on us as we use to judge others. Jesus calls us to a deeper
understanding and compassion towards other people, reflective of God’s mercy.

Jesus gives us a picture of human hypocrisy by talking about removing a speck in
our neighbor’s eye and ignoring the plank in our own. It is a powerful picture. It
illustrates the overlooked flaws and sinfulness within us while we scrutinize others.

In fact, to the first century person, the eye was a window into the character and
soul of the person he was speaking to. When he gazed into his neighbor’s eyes, they

formed a deeper bond, and he could see the person’s whole self. To criticize the
person was to criticize his very being. It was a level of disrespect we can’t imagine.
At the same time, the eyes of another person were a mirror into one’s own being. If
someone looked into the eyes of his neighbor, it was like looking in a mirror into
himself. If he were offering criticism, he would see the log in his own eyes.
Staring into the eyes of our neighbor and seeing their soul, their character, their
lives, their concerns, their struggles, their tragedies, their mistakes, their successes,
their hates, and their loves, mirrors back to us the log within our own lives. As
people, we often avoid connecting with others on a deep level because it reveals
our faults and our criticisms of ourselves. Deep relationships show us our own logs.
Let’s consider the story of Mike and Tom. Tom was a righteous follower of Christ.
He lived by the teachings of Jesus and followed all the rules. He considered himself
to be very faithful. Therefore, Tom could criticize those who were less righteous
than himself. After all, he followed the rules and lived a chaste life before God. But
Tom had little fruit to show for a life of following Christ. In fact, he recently started
to worry that even though he called Jesus Christ Lord, Lord, Jesus may not know
him and say, “go away from me, you evildoer.” Tom was beginning to feel the
weight of his righteous measurement of others weighing down his own life.

Mike’s life was very different, Mike would never claim to be as righteous as Tom and
he didn’t care to try. Yet, Mike’s life bore much fruit. Let’s listen to the story of Tom
and Mike.

As spring breathed new life into the world, Tom found himself feeling out of place
amidst the blooming landscapes. Seated on a park bench early one morning, he
awaited the return of his old friend Mike, who had spent years away, diving into
service work across many communities.

When Mike arrived, his presence was like a burst of energy. He was no longer the
quiet sidekick Tom remembered, but a man who carried stories of resilience and
growth. As they greeted each other and settled into conversation, Mike spoke with
passion about the challenges and triumphs of his work. The people he helped lived
better because he dared to step into their mess with them.
Tom listened, but with each story, he felt an uncomfortable stir within himself. He
recognized the stark contrast between Mike’s tangible impact on the world and his
own approach. Tom always cared more about the moral high ground than actively
engaging in others’ struggles. Tom held a great burden of pride in his stringent
beliefs. Those critical beliefs began to crumble under the weight of Mike’s simple,
yet powerful stories.

Tom began to feel the pressure build as he saw his life in the mirror of Mike’s eyes.
Mike mentioned how their hometown had changed. He praised a few locals for
their efforts to bridge community divides. Tom had openly criticized the same
people’s attempts as naive or pointless. The weight of Tom’s measures of criticism
continued to build. Tom prepared to defend himself and his viewpoints, but the log
in Tom’s own eyes was beginning to take shape. Despite the log beginning to form
in the mirror of Mike’s eyes, Tom bristled, ready to defend his viewpoints with the
usual vigor, but Mike’s next words stopped him.
“You know, Tom, I’ve always admired your conviction, but I sometimes
wonder—what has it cost you? This town… it’s not just buildings and streets; it’s
people, man. People who need hands more than they need words.”

It was a challenge laid bare, given with mercy and love for an old friend, a critique
given by a wise man aware of his own planks and given with a humble gracious
heart. It struck a nerve. Tom looked around the park, at the laughing children and
chatting neighbors. He saw, not a community united under shared values but
fragmented, where many kept their distance, wary of his judgments.

In that moment, Tom faced a spiritual crisis. He could cling to his righteousness, or
he could learn from the friend who had found richness in humility and service. The

pain of acknowledging his own shortcomings was sharp, almost unbearable, but it
was real.
With a deep breath, Tom turned back to Mike, his voice barely above a whisper.
“You’re right. I’ve been so busy judging; I didn’t see the log in my own eyes. Help me,
Mike. Help me see better.”
Mike’s response was a warm, forgiving smile. “Let’s start with tomorrow. Join me at
the community center. There’s a lot to do.”

As they parted that evening, Tom felt a mixture of sorrow for years lost in self-
imposed isolation. He had a new hope for the redemption that might come from
serving others. This was the beginning of his new journey—not of leading from
above, but of walking alongside.

We can understand the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5 better if we think about
our tasks in life. What is our task in any given moment? There is an advantage in life
when we focus on our tasks and avoid doing the tasks of others. Knowing what our
tasks are and what are the tasks of others can help us avoid judgment. It is our task
to focus on our correction before we can assume the task of criticizing another.
Sometimes it may be our task to offer criticism. In life, constructive criticism is
helpful and essential. We have to be careful figuring out when it is our task to help
someone through criticism. Here are some helpful questions to guide us.

 Have I taken on the task of self-examination before offering advice?
 Has the community given me the task of reflective and loving criticism of a
member of our community?
 Has the person asked me to perform the task? Do I have permission?
 Is it the right time to take on the task of judgment?
 Can I carry out the task using the measurements of God, which are grace,
mercy, and love?
 Can I take on the task without crossing boundaries into areas not meant for
me but for others to handle?
 What will correcting someone else reveal about myself and my own failings?
Have I focused on self-correction first?
 Finally, have I asked the Holy Spirit for discernment and wisdom? Have I
invited the Holy Spirit into our conversation?

Our scripture today challenges us to accept a liberating journey of self-assessment.
Jesus encourages us to refrain from undue judgment and to pursue personal
transformation. Transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit is crucial for
our spiritual growth.

As we engage with the world, can we hear the teaching of Jesus? Can we accept our
profound calling as followers of Christ? We have seen what can be accomplished

when hearts are united in service and hands are joined in purpose. Nearly two
hundred families are nourished twice a month because of our collective
commitment; let this guide us to even greater acts of love and mercy.

We live in a world that thirsts for kindness. May our actions and words reflect our
faith and our compassion. May we hold fast to the belief that every act of kindness,
no matter how small, expands the life of another.

We are the hands and feet of a loving grace. We serve not only with our actions, but
with our hearts and our words. May our hearts be soft, and our words be kind.
When it is our task, may our judgments be measured by God as merciful, grace
filled and loving. May we have the courage to challenge when it is our task; the
patience and grace to hold our tongue when it is not our place or our time to judge;
and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to know the difference.

“Gracious and Loving God,

We come before You today, hearts full of gratitude for the mission of grace and
mercy that You have entrusted to our care. You teach us through Your word in
Matthew 7 to see not the speck in our brother’s or sister’s eye but the log in our
own. Help us not to judge others and show us where we need Your transforming
power in our lives.

Lord, inspire us as we strive to follow the lessons of this scripture. Help us to
embrace a spirit of humility and empathy. Help us to extend our hands in service,
fulfilling the needs of people and fostering genuine connections. Let the work of
our food pantry reflect Your love and mercy.

As we go forth into Your world, bless us with the courage to live out our faith
actively. May our actions reflect the bounty of our beliefs and the depth of our
compassion. Fill our hearts with the joy of service and our lives with the blessing of
Thank You, Father, for the community gathered here, for the opportunity to serve,
and for the grace that sustains us. Lead us, and let our lives be a continuous prayer
of gratitude and service.

In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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