Matthew 7:3-5. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye: and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite. First cast out the beam out of thine own eye: and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
This passage is so familiar that it hardly needs any commentary. Of course, I have plenty to say about it 🙂
The words that pop for me are mote, beam, and hypocrite.
Mote: (karpbos) A twig, straw, chaff, or any particle of dust. It can be so small as to be nearly invisible. Often, I will say, “Terry, I have something in my eye. Can you see it?” He will look and find nothing. Then I rub, blink, make my eye water, and usually the irritant goes away. That’s when the particle is nearly microscopic. When it’s a little bigger, like an eyelash, Terry is very good at getting it out for me. Anything seriously larger than that, he’d probably recommend a visit to the doctor.
Beam: (dokos) A wooden beam, a log. Something so huge that it’s really pretty absurd that you haven’t taken care of it yet. Why would anyone go around with a log in his eye? Well, let me make a very homely analogy here. Some time ago, I was out with someone who has a particular struggle. She pointed out someone else, commenting disparagingly on the woman’s appearance. Since her comment pointed out her own problem as well, I was left without words to respond–and that’s saying something! You see? The log in my friend’s eye distorted her vision so much that she could see only the speck in another person’s eye, so to speak.
Hypocrite: One who operates behind a mask. Originally this word was applied to actors who held masks in front of their faces to portray whatever emotion they were pretending to have. Today, it is applied to those who behave differently than the persona they show the world. Deceit covered by a friendly smile; hatred covered by a warm hug or handshake; contempt covered by a compliment; or, as in this passage, the “kindness” of pointing out another’s fault while seeming to be blissfully unaware of one’s own shortcoming.
Jesus’ closing sentence in verse 5 puts it all into perspective. You can’t help someone else deal with his sin until you’ve cleaned up your own.