Luke 6:41-42 (NIV) “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
In this section, Jesus is returning to the theme of judgment. Jesus was a master of rhetoric, using hyperbole to paint ridiculous but stunningly clear pictures of the points He is making. This particular picture is aimed straight at the Pharisees, whose judging of others was legendary.
In this particular picture, one person is standing in judgment over someone who has a speck of sawdust in their eye, offering to help remove it for them, while at the same time, they have a board sticking out of their own eye. One vital element in this hyperbole is that both the board and the speck of sawdust are made of the same thing: wood.
The Pharisees were quick to point out the sins that they saw in other people, while carefully hiding the fact that they were engaging in the same sinful behaviors in private, often to a greater degree than those at whom they were pointing. This, of course, disqualified them from being able to help anyone with that particular sin.
Of course, this did not and does not apply only to Pharisees, but to anyone who has sin in their lives. Their sin completely disqualifies them from helping a brother or sister who is also sinning, especially when it comes to dealing with the sin that they both have in common.
But that’s not the end of this picture. We are supposed to graciously help a brother or sister caught in sin to repent and to be restored. But to do that, we must first make sure that our own hands are clean. We must ruthlessly examine ourselves to ensure that there is no sin, overt or hidden, large or small, in our own lives. Only then can we have hands clean enough and vision clear enough to help our brother or sister with their sin, overt or hidden, large or small.
Father, how easy it is for us to see sinful behavior in others, the whole time turning a blind eye to the sin that is present in our own lives. Give me eyes that can see clearly any trace of sin in my own life and heart, and a will to deal ruthlessly with that sin, and cast it out of my life. That way, when I see sin in someone else, I won’t condemn them for it, but can humbly help them to get rid of it. Amen.