I grew up in a small logging and fishing community. When the mills closed down and the trees stopped falling, the town dried up. It was sad to see families suddenly facing a loss of livelihood. But another kind of logging is still to take place every day. It isn’t the removal of trees in the forest, but it involves removing the log of criticism from our mouths.
Jesus said, “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.”
Using these straightforward words, Jesus was instructing His followers not to be critical people who always find fault with others. As a place dedicated for the worship of Jesus, you would expect the church to be the most encouraging place on earth. However, the church has gained a poor reputation for being one of the most critical places around.
Talking with one woman recently, she mentioned a time her teenage son went to church with her. He wore his baseball cap inside, and as he left, one of the older men said to him, “The only ones who wear hats in church are women.” If this older man had said, “It was good having you with us today. Hope to see you next week,” he could have had a positive impact on that young man. As it was, the last thing catching his attention was a sarcastic comment. How many times has a snide remark been the reason people have refused to return to church? Sadly, some people find more acceptance and understanding and compassion in bars than they do in churches.
Within the walls of the church you should find grace. Within the homes of Christ-followers you should find grace. Within conversations with Christians you should experience grace. I’ve been privileged, because the Christ-followers I know DO extend grace to one another, and the church I’ve been a part of IS a place of grace.
Our sinful nature loves to point out the flaws in others because it diverts the attention away from our own faults. Jesus dealt with this when the religious leaders threw a woman at Jesus’ feet who they caught in adultery. They picked up rocks to stone her. Jesus turned the spotlight on them when He said, “Whichever one of you hasn’t sinned can cast the first stone.” Realizing their own sin, each of these men dropped their rock and walked away!
In His comment about the log in our eye, Jesus is telling us to keep our mouth shut and consider our own life before we say something that will hurt someone else. There’s no place for gossip or sarcastic criticism in the life of a Christ-follower. My wife often quotes Romans 2:4, “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance“. A kind word is much more powerful than shame and criticism and sarcasm. Taking out our own log first, before we speak, will avert many unnecessary arguments and tears.
God’s love for you and me moved Him to extend mercy and grace to us. He would have been just to condemn us for our sin. Instead He provided forgiveness through Christ, in order to restore a relationship of love and thankfulness with Himself. If you haven’t yet received Christ and experienced God’s grace, I hope you’ll so that soon.