1 Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. 3 Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? 5 You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.
The word “hypocrisy” came from a Greek word meaning “to act, to play a part.” Christian author Jim White wrote about Christian hypocrisy as an obstacle to faith: “We must stop presenting ourselves as the message and begin presenting Jesus as the message. There will be disappointment with Christians as long as there are imperfect people. Since all Christians are imperfect, there will always be disappointment.”* We must not judge others’ failures while ignoring or excusing our own.
Lord Jesus, help me live authentically in your love and grace, letting go of my need to try to make myself look better than I am. Teach me to own my struggles, claim your power to transform me and share that with others. Amen.
* Jim White in Kinnaman and Lyons, unChristian. Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2007, p. 66.
We read in today’s GPS Scripture from Matthew 7:4, “How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye?”
I come from a large family. Among the ten siblings (five of us and our spouses), the political views and spiritual beliefs range from extremely conservative to extremely liberal, with everything in between. And yet, somehow, we each tend to think we’re “right.” (Can you identify with an “I’m right” mentality?)
Here’s the thing. As I ponder this week’s sermon and today’s GPS Scripture about not judging the splinter in someone else’s eye when there is a log in my own, I realize that I’ve had a log in my own eye! Yikes!
You see, some of my siblings have criticized (judged) me for belonging to a “rich liberal mega-church.” (And believe me, that was not intended as a compliment!) Did I react with grace and love? Not even close. I didn’t yell, or stomp my foot, or resort to name-calling; that’s not my style. What I did was in some ways even more pitiful. Because I positioned my action as being a good thing. But all it would have taken is one little peek inside my defensive heart to see that my motives were not good. Not good at all.
What did I do? I copied and pasted an excerpt from Pastor Adam’s recent weekly update that mentioned our church donated 24.5 tons of food last year to people. And emailed it to them. How messed up is that? I might as well have said, “na-na-na-na-boo-boo, my church is better than your church!”
At the time, I had convinced myself that I was creating a learning moment for my misguided siblings. That when they read about our church’s radical generosity, they would realize that our church prioritizes love over legalism, and uses our wealth for the good of all. Put another way, I thought they might realize that my church is better than their church. Oh, dear Lord, forgive me! My reaction was wrong on so many levels.
My motives were selfish. I had become focused on defending myself (because after all, criticism about my choice of church is criticism of me). I had become intent on seeking my siblings’ approval, rather than keeping my focus on what God desires.
God does not want me to engage in squabbles-–no matter how politely indirect I approach them. God does not want me to judge my siblings’ churches or spiritual beliefs. Especially when I feel that my siblings are judging mine. God has reserved judgment for Himself.
God wants me to trust Him to work out their spiritual beliefs with Him. God wants me to see my hypocrisy-–the foolishness and futility of bragging about my church, as if it is better than other churches.
God wants me to extend love, forgiveness, and grace to everyone who criticizes me or hurts my feelings. God wants me to humbly recognize that others are pursuing God just as sincerely as I am. And to gratefully realize that God is pursuing all of us!
Next time any of my siblings criticize me or my church, I pray that I will listen attentively to what is really on their heart and invite God to teach me whatever I can learn from that situation. I pray that I will respond-–not with hypocrisy or judgment, but with humility, grace, and love.
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