Maybe you’re like me. I am far to quick to notice the sin in others and far too unwilling to notice it in myself. I often look at the evil in the world as something that is “out there,” outside of me in this person, or this corporation, or that political ideology. I am far too quick to call others on their greed or hypocrisy or lust or idolatry. And on the other hand, I am reluctant to recognize or admit that I have been first chair violin in the lust orchestra or the driver of the idolatry bus leading far too many to play the wrong part or drive them very far in the wrong direction.
Recently, I was watching (too many) YouTube videos with a bunch of prominent “Prosperity Gospel” / “Word of Faith” teachers shouting nonsense and manipulating the Word of God to mean they could get what they really wanted, which it turns out wasn’t God at all. I was appalled, disgusted, and everything you should be when watching videos like that. However, over the next couple days, the Holy Spirit began convicting me of how often times I use God to get what I want. How often to I elevate gift above Giver? How often do I operate as though I am king of my life and this world and God only has what reign and dominion I allow him to have? How often to I humbly realize God is who he is independent of me and would remain so even if i had never been born? How often to I graciously and willingly submit to his will instead of demanding my own?
Recently, I was monitoring and engaging in (too many) debates on Facebook. After a while, I found myself swelling up with pride that I had it more “figured out” than the other guys. Over the next couple of days, the Holy Spirit began convicting me of how prideful and arrogant I had become. Is it not pride and arrogance that caused Satan to be kicked out of Heaven and removed from God’s presence? Is it not pride and arrogance that caused Adam and Eve to be kicked out of the Garden and removed from God’s presence? Are pride and arrogance not listed among the things that God hates (Prov. 8:13)? How quick am I to overlook this obvious sin in my own life which Augustine says is pregnant with all other sins? And yet how quickly can I see it and identify it festering like a sore in someone else and announce loudly how ugly it is?
I should know better.
My Messiah teaches, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see 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,’ when there is the log 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 7:1-5)
Messiah Jesus is arguing against our fallen tendency to utilize unequal weights and measures. We are so eager to judge someone else by their words and actions, but we want to be judged by our motives and intentions. The Messiah is arguing for the existence of sin in each of our lives and not only it’s glaring reality, but our willingness to overlook it. And he goes one step further by shining the light even brighter in the dark recesses of our heart. He knows that though we blithely dismiss our sin we are all crackshots when it comes to calling out the sins of others. Certainly we can’t extrapolate from this teaching that we shouldn’t judge one another. Notice that at the end of his lesson, the speck in the brother’s eye ends up removed. The problem Messiah Jesus has is the spirit and order in which this judging takes place. It must be done in the spirit of equality and in the order that causes self examination to take precedence. This theme is carried out through the rest of the New Testament.
Judgment begins with the household of God. (1 Pet. 4:17)
Judge and remove the evil from among you before considering judgement on outsiders. (1 Cor. 5:12-13)
Judge your own petty lawsuits wisely, because you’re going to judge the angels. (1 Cor. 6:1-4)
I’m beginning to figure out that understanding the evil in the world isn’t going to come by looking outside myself and saying, “It’s this government!” or “It’s this religion!” or “It’s this corporation!” or “It’s this group of people!” Beginning to understand the evil in the world starts by asking, “Where is the greed is in my heart? Where is my indifference? Where is my lack of compassion? Where is my lust, arrogance, pride, and idolatry?”
If I ever want to be an asset to others and a helper to my brother, I need to allow the Holy Spirit to do his divine eye-logging. (Jn. 16:8)