In Matt. 7:1-5, Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
In these verses, Jesus is preaching against hypocrisy. I used to understand the speck Jesus is referring to as being matters of opinion, since there is no such thing as a minor sin. Just ask Adam and Eve (Gen. 3). Satan made the sin appear to be minor, and their believing him cost them their home in Paradise and their access to the Tree of Life. The speck is one person’s sin that will separate him from God, just as it did Adam and Eve, if it goes unrepented of. The plank is another person’s sin combined with the hypocrisy it requires to judge another when he/she is guilty of the same sin. Jesus is simply saying that the hypocrite will be judged just as harshly as he/she is judging others.
More often than not, overly critical people who go around looking for “specks” in the eyes of others are judging others to cover up their own error and weaknesses. They need “scapegoats” so their own sin will be overlooked by the rest.
Do you really want to help others? First of all, examine your own heart, and your own intentions. Is your true purpose in life to “deny” yourself (Matt. 16:24), and lay up treasures in heaven by helping others to get there with you, or is it to convince yourself, and others that you are better than they are?
In John 12:47,48 Jesus said, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My Words, has that which judges him - the Word I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” Our work in the church that HE built (Matt. 16:18) is to carry on with HIS work. Our work is not to be overly critical, and look for faults, and judge others. Our work is to preach, teach, and spread His Word, and to help with His work in any way we are the most capable. When we do this, we know that He is using us, and that His Word in the Bible will be the standard by which all of us will be judged. God isn’t going to judge others according to the standards some of us might lay on them. However, He will consider those standards, and use them when He judges those who are overly critical with their judgments of others.
Timothy A. Sundlie - Preacher/Evangelist for the La Crosse church of Christ