Today’s Reading: Matthew 7:1-6; Luke 6:37-42
Have you ever noticed at sporting events how we sometimes yell the obvious? To the pitcher, we yell, “Get this guy out!” He has been trying to get every batter out for the last five innings but we yell the obvious anyhow. The football team will be seven points behind and someone will yell, “We need a touchdown!” Probably most of what we yell from the sidelines is already the goal of the players on the field. What they need from us is encouragement – “You can do it!” or “We believe in you!”
I was reminded of this kind of game-time cheering as I was reading Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. How often do we see the situation someone else is in and wonder why they are not doing something to get themselves out? Why is it that we come up with solutions to other people’s problems so much easier than we come up with solutions of our own?
When it is someone else who has gotten themselves into a situation, the solution seems so easy and obvious. Yet they do not need us to yell the obvious from the sidelines. They are well aware of the situation they are in. What they need is encouragement. That or put on a uniform and get in the game!
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
“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 own 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 enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” – Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus is NOT saying here that we shouldn’t help each other; that we should only worry about ourselves. No, he is commanding us to stop judging each other for the help that we need. We need to first examine our own situations. When we do this, we will most likely see that we, too, are not perfect. We make mistakes and get ourselves into situations we should not be in, just like others around us.
The messages of Jesus are consistent with the idea that we reach out and help those around us, loving them the way we would want to be loved (there’s that Golden Rule again). Jesus is not saying to ignore the single woman with three kids because “she should have known better than to marry that guy.” Jesus is not saying to criticize the parents whose kids are out of control because “this would not be happening if they had just made them obey when they were younger.” The list goes on and on. The answer to all situations is that Jesus wants us to reach out in love to one another, not sit in judgment of each other.
We already looked at the Sermon on the Mount from Luke’s gospel. Let’s look again at how Luke retold this portion of Jesus’ sermon.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.
“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, ‘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.
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” – Luke 6:37-45
What we say about other people FLOWS FROM WHAT IS IN YOUR HEART. A good person produces good things from their heart; an evil person produces evil things. This is good to remember next time I am in the mood to gossip or to say something critical about someone else.
Lord, please forgive me for the evil things that have spilled out of my mouth. Forgive me for my criticisms of others. Forgive me for my gossiping tongue. Lord, my desire is to help others. Please take this log out of my own eye so that I can reach out to others with a pure heart. Amen.