We’ve all experienced the discomfort of a speck of dirt in the eye. The last time this happened to me, I was able to locate and remove the little black dot giving me so much irritation. But I immediately experienced more pain when I blinked. Something was under my eyelid. I pulled, twisted and lifted but couldn’t find anything. I splashed cold water into my eye. I did everything short of standing on my head to try and dislodge whatever was in there, but to no avail. I decided to wait it out and try not to blink or think about it, hoping it would work its way out. After 10 minutes, which seemed like forever, I blinked and it was gone! I spent another 10 minutes feeling thankful and relieved, marveling at how amazing it felt to blink without wincing. We do take little things like blinking for granted.
I couldn’t help but think of Matthew 7: “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 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” (verses 3-5, NLT).
When the first speck was in my eye, I had to get it out. I knew it was there, I saw it and I took care of it. I couldn’t think about or do anything else until it was gone. The second one was different. I wasn’t as disabled as I was with the first one. It only hurt when I blinked. I resigned myself to it as I had no idea when it would come out.
Even though we can never get used to a speck in the eye, we can unfortunately get used to the proverbial log, to the point we don’t even know it’s there. We can fall into bad habits of thinking or behaving, not realizing these habits may be harmful to others or ourselves, including judging, which was the point of Jesus’ comments. He wasn’t giving us a command or a prescription to remove all the sin from the lives of others or even our own. He knew we can’t do either without his help.
We know it too. How many of us have wasted money on self-help books or seminars, only to find ourselves right back where we started, minus money and time we can’t get back? And how many times have we tried to fix or correct others, only to cause hard feelings or chase friends or loved ones away?
What we can do is refrain from judging others or thinking we know better than they. We can give people the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions. And we can trust God through the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Jesus (Romans 12:2). He’s the one who does the heavy lifting of those logs. That’s what grace is all about.