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Tuesday, November 3, 2015
An Autumn Wagon Cart in Maytown, PA.
"Getting The Specks Out"
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"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at 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,’ and behold, the log is 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).
This last Sunday our pastor spoke from Matthew 7:1-5, taking a passage of Scripture from the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus deals with judging and hypocrisy. Josh McDowell asserts the most quoted Scripture by non-believers, who otherwise have little regard for the Bible, is "Do not judge". They like to hit Christians, especially those who speak forth God's commands for living, over the head with this abbreviated command taken out of context.
Of course we all make judgments every day and, later in this same chapter, Jesus cautioned, "Beware of the false prophets" (v.15) which surely involves making a judgment as to which prophets are true and which are false! You'll surely be in trouble if you fall for everything coming down the pike.
Pastor's message brought back a memory from long ago when I also preached from this passage, using a very memorable illustration. Although this took place over 30 years ago people who were in that church service will still remember it today.
Tom Neizmik stood and read Matthew 7:1-5 aloud. Then to the congregation's surprise he was interrupted as Dave Woods stood up. Dave was a school teacher with some interesting talents, including humor. He had taken an old pair of glasses and, from balsa wood, he fashioned 12" beams that were glued to the front of each lens making it impossible for him to see. It was a rather hilarious sight.
As we watched him with the huge beams protruding from each eye he commenced to pass petty judgments on various people sitting in the church service (an edgy approach that only works in a young church)! In a snarky, judgmental way he looked around the room (though he couldn't see through the beams) and said things like, "Martha's dresses are just way too short." "Last week I saw Deacon Sam leave church and smoke a cigarette in the back alley". "When I drove by the Carbon City tavern I saw Joe's truck parked in front" and so forth. Though he made things up as he spoke, it still made people slouch down in their chairs for fear that their name might come up next!
I doubt if too many people remember what I said in the sermon that day but they do remember Dave's illustration!
There's a lot of meat in this short passage and I enjoyed hearing Pastor's exposition and have done further study as well.
Theologian Dwight Pentecost shares what he believes is the heart of the message, "Do not criticize, do not sit as a judge upon another man’s motives, do not attempt to interpret the desires of his heart." The Holman New Testament Commentary "Do not judge others until you are prepared to be judged by the same standard. And then, when you exercise judgment toward others, do it with humility."
The contrast between ‘speck’ and ‘log’ is a hyperbole or intentional exaggeration used for illustrative purposes. Can you picture a person with a beam (log, tree trunk, railroad tie or a timber) protruding from his eye while trying to help someone else get a tiny speck of dust out of his eye? What a ludicrous scene which is exactly the picture Jesus sought to portray in a less than orthodox illustration. The "log" judge would end up poking out the eye of the "speck" victim. The implication is that the "log" judge often has in his life a much bigger problem, and rather than dealing with his own sin first, he instead finds it more appealing to expose the "speck" victim to get the attention off himself.
"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."
However we do get literal specks in our eyes and appreciate people that can get them out. On occasion I've had a speck in my eye and Brooksyne has taken a dab of tissue and very carefully removed the foreign debris. I sure want to make sure she can see well when she does that!
All of us have specks or larger obstacles in our lives from time to time and we are enriched by those who, out of genuine concern, lovingly call it to our attention. In some instances they can even help us in the process of removing it. A healthy sense of this "speck" removal is found in Galatians 6:1, "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted."
I can recall occasions when I had a "speck" in my life and was blessed to have a spiritual brother or sister gently point it out and aid me in the removal. Of course I have also been on the removal side, a valuable part of ministry.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, while people have a tendency to judge others by their words and actions, You judge us by our motives. You know the inner thoughts of our hearts as evidenced when You spoke to Samuel about his unexpected choice in selecting young David to be the next king rather than his older, taller and stronger brothers. You don't see things the way others see them, for people judge by outward appearance, but You see thoughts stored up in our heart. Help us to deal first with our own sin, so that when You lay upon our heart one who is caught up in sin, we can prayerfully and gently seek to restore them to a godly attitude or conduct that is pleasing to You. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
For further study:
Bible teacher David Guzik has an excellent exposition of this command writing that... "This is the Bible verse that seems to be most popular in our present day. But most the people who quote this verse don't understand what Jesus said. They seem to think Jesus commanded a universal acceptance of any lifestyle or teaching. If we see what Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-16, He commands us to know people by the fruit of their life, and some sort of assessment is necessary for that. The Christian is called to unconditionally love. But the Christian is not called to unconditional approval. We really can love people who do things that should not be approved of. Instead, Jesus is speaking against being judgmental, that is, judging motives and the inner man, which only God can know. We can judge the fruit of a man, but we can rarely judge their motives with accuracy.
Jesus does not prohibit judgment of others. He only requires that our judgment be completely fair, and that we only judge others by a standard we would also like to be judged by. Most of our judgment in regard to others is wrong, not because we judge according to a standard, but because we are hypocritical in the application of that standard - we ignore the standard in our own life.
We judge others by one standard, and ourselves by another standard - being far more generous to ourselves than others. With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you:
Oswald Chambers writes that Jesus is charging His disciples to "Stop having a measuring rod for other people. There is always one fact more in every man's case about which we know nothing. The first thing God does is to give us a spiritual spring-cleaning; there is no possibility of pride left in a man after that. I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.
Ray Stedman observes that, "All of us know someone whom we consider a little bit lower on the ethical scale than we are, and what a comfort they are to our hearts! Every time our conscience gives us a little stab, we immediately remember these people, and we take courage, and feel a lot better. If we analyze our thoughts, we find that we secretly feel God has no right to bother us while these people are around. Let him concentrate on them! They are the ones who need it!...We all want a lightning rod that will divert the stroke of divine wrath from us, and channel it off to someone we consider a little more worthy of it." (Romans 2:1-16: The Secrets of Men)
Joe is a friend of ours from Val-Co, a company where we serve as chaplains. Originally from New York City he is an avid sports fan. Last week we were discussing the World Series and of course each rooting for opposing teams; he for the Mets from his home town and me for the Royals from my hometown of Kansas City. Excited that he was going to the World Series game on Saturday night with his dad, he shared this photo and mused, "While it was not the outcome I would've preferred, just the fact that I was there with my Dad makes me feel like I took home the trophy!"
Joe is a "Marcom specialist". Looking that word up it is "an abbreviation for 'marketing communications.' Marcom is targeted interaction with customers and prospects using one or more media, such as direct mail, newspapers and magazines, television, radio, billboards, telemarketing, and the Internet." However today I want to commend Joe for the mentoring role he has had with Ester. He is an excellent photographer and has encouraged Ester in her giftings using some of her photos in company newsletters.
Yesterday afternoon we were north of Mount Joy on an appropriately named "Harvest Road" headed to Palmyra for a chaplain visit when we passed this interesting scene. An Amish farmer was walking through his field and chucking corn ears up into the wagon. The tractor had steel wheels in the rear and rubber tires in the front! I don't understand the various farm rules among the old order folks but this was an interesting combination. I engaged in conversation with the young Amish farmer who seemed eager to visit. I asked him about using the tractor for field work and he indicated he should probably be using the team horses but it was just a small section he was doing.
We still have lots of Autumn color in our region such as this road in Lebanon County south of Palmyra.
A colorful flower pot on an old wood barrel at the Homestead Furnishings & Gifts in Maytown, PA where I took our guests, Larry and Tina Kester this last Saturday.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Jesus Saves" Video Travis Cottrell We sung this power-packed song in our church this last Lord's Day.
"Mercy Seat" Video Angela Cruz
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