There are many memorable quotes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Some of us perhaps prefer to read the opening comments we affectionately call the “Be” attitudes. Some of us like to look over Christ’s lessons on prayer. Others prefer to read from Jesus’ lessons on anxiety and trust. The world around us prefers to quote from chapter 7 and remind us that we should not be judging. But, Jesus is not telling us that we should not be judging. We know this is the case because numerous passages teach us that judging is supposed to happen. Paul teaches the Corinthians to withdraw their fellowship from one of its members that was practicing incest (I Cor. 5). He would later tell the Romans to mark those that cause divisions (Rom. 16:17). John taught the saints to test the spirits in I John 4:1. Not to mention that Jesus goes on in Matt. 7 and tells us not to cast our pearls before swine or give what is holy unto dogs. How can one do these things without making some form of judging. To know whether or not one must withdraw their fellowship, he must judge whether or not a brother is caught up in an unrepentant sin. To mark someone, we must determine if their actions are causing divisions. To test one must determine or judge whether the spirit passed or failed. To identify a hog or a dog once must make a judgment call. No, Jesus is not condemning judging. He is condemning the wrong type of judging. As Jesus says before we can pulls the speck out of our brother’s eye we must first pull the plank out of our own eye. Just as Christ’s opening statements concerning judging are misunderstood, so it the application of this passage about planks and specks. I want you to take careful consideration for how this passage is usually applied. A person is observant enough to realize that their own life is not in harmony with the word of God. He knows that the plank is not just obvious to himself, but others can see that his life is not measuring up to God’s standard. He can see that this plank gets in the way of him doing others things that he should be doing (or is trying to do). He then determines that before he can help others change their lives, he will wait until he 1st changes his own life. After all, he has a plank in his eye and Jesus told him to not touch the speck in his brother’s eye while the plank is in his own eye.
Is this what Jesus really wants from us? Does he want a bunch of people with obvious planks walking around ignoring the fact that they have a plank in their eye? Could you imagine going to a work place were everyone has a plank in their eye? I cannot imagine much if any work is actually accomplished. Jesus is not saying “work on it.” He says, “first remove the plank out of your own eye.” Brethren that is a command! And yet, we often read this passage as an excuse for inaction. We say things like, “When I get better, I’ll help someone else.” Then, years down the road, we learn that our opportunity to help the person with the speck in their eye has come and gone.
To illustrate my point, let me share with a true story I heard this past week. During our men’s bibles study at camp this year we were discussing the role of father hood. At the close of the class, the following story was shared.
There was an older man whose faith was quite exemplarily. In fact, most spoke highly of this man’s character. However, despite his great faith, his strong marriage, and his service to the saints he could never be an elder. Not one of his children (two boys) were faithful Christians. As a young man he knew that he was spiritually weak. He always would say, “I need to work on that” when it came to various aspects of his walk with God. “Working on that” became his excuse. He always intended on being a better father, a better example unto his two boys. And eventually he did. However, his boys were already out of the home and his time to teach them had passed. He failed to show them what a good father was and his two boys learned to walk in the bad habits of their father. This man regretted waiting until a more opportune time to correct the faults in his life. He knows what he should have done all those years ago. He should have removed the plank. He should have fixed his life. He should have repented immediately.
Brethren, it is time to remove the plank. No more making of excuses. No more “I’ll get there.” It is time to do as Nike says, “Just do it.” Be the parent you children need you to be now. Be the child your parents need you to be now. Be the servant the Lord needs you to be now. Be the Christian God has called you to be.
Tomorrow may never come and even if it does, the opportunity to help, to serve, to teach may be gone by then.
Grinnell church of Christ
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It is Time to Remove the Plank
Volume 4 Issue 47