Jesus is giving us a purposeful slap on the back of the head here to wake us up to the fact that we often judge others with unrestrained verbal cruelty, but take pious, or self-righteous offense when the same kind of behavior is directed toward ourselves
Well, here it is. Hypocrite! The word is thrown around a lot these days. The great irony is that those who wield it are usually the best examples of “the pot calling the kettle black.” In reality, the only one who can use the word without fault is Jesus. He is the only one who is perfect among us. In other words, it is not only the Pharisaical types among us who deserve the title, but quite often, each and every one of us are guilty of hypocrisy.
When Jesus used the word it was to get the Pharisees, and his own disciples, to recognizes the problem of judging the faults of others while ignoring their own offenses. Jesus is giving us a purposeful slap on the back of the head here to wake us up to the fact that we often judge others with unrestrained verbal cruelty, but take pious, or self-righteous offense when the same kind of behavior is directed toward ourselves. Jesus wants us to consider two things here: the need of humble self-reflection, and the often unjust nature of our judgments of others.
Matthew’s chapter 7 begins with a very challenging wisdom for us. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same manner you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (verses 1-2) We see this admonition in the Lord’s Prayer as well. “Forgive us our debt, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) Indeed, this idea of not judging others is one of the most often expressed admonitions in the Gospels. Yet, we seem to do it with abandon. When we do, we miss the most important part of the message, that is, the need to reflect on our own sins first.
This does not mean that we are to allow true injustices to go unchallenged. But it does mean that we need to be aware of the fact that we, too, are sinners. We need to be self-reflective and able to discern our own failures, fears, faults and weaknesses. Why? Because it will keep us humble. It is this humility that allows us to be more compassionate, more forgiving and merciful toward the other. It also allows us to challenge ourselves and others to turn away from negative behaviors and to grow in holiness—together.
Lord, give us the courage to reflect on the “planks” in our own eyes, so that we will not be so quick to condemn others for the “specks” in their eyes. Increase our ability to love you with our whole hearts, minds, bodies and souls, and our neighbors as ourselves. It is in this commandment of love that true justice finds its being. We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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