“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
My custom is to use The Message for these daily devotionals because it’s often jarring to read these well known passages in a different translation. While I really like the way Peterson renders this section, I think he misses the central issue that Jesus is getting at. But, I think the NIV, NRSV, and other more literal translations get at it a bit better.
Because of the word, “hypocrite.”
That really seems to be the heart of what Jesus is teaching here, we must engage with one another in humility because we are flawed and none of us are perfect. If we act as though we have it all together then we are nothing more than hypocrites.
All in all, I think Jesus is saying, “Give one another the benefit of the doubt.”
When Amy and I joined the staff of CRU we were assigned to a campus team at Illinois State University. I am so grateful for those years. We grew up there. When we arrived to campus we were in our early 20s and not much older than the students were serving. I was young, brash, overly confident, and believed I knew everything.
Boy, was I wrong.
Thankfully, our team leader, Matt Kent, was kind and gentle. He didn’t put up with my childish ways, but he also acknowledged he was imperfect. Matt is the embodiment of humility (he probably just blushed without knowing why). One of the greatest gifts that Matt gave Amy and I through his leadership was this, “We will believe the best in one another.”
“Believe the best in one another.”
What Matt meant by that was that we would endeavor to give the same amount of grace and mercy to one another that we wanted to receive ourselves. This meant that we didn’t question one another’s motives. Our posture was to assume that each of us on the team had the best intentions and wanted what was best for one another. By serving together in this way, we experienced one of the healthiest teams that I have ever been a part of. There was no question where you stood with one another, there was little to no drama, and all of us really respected one another. That’s not to say we didn’t have disagreements or arguments or hard conversations. No, it’s just that when we did we knew that we were all coming from a place of mutual respect.
In our society we take an approach of, “I will extend respect to you if you first extend respect to me.” Do you see how this is so broken?
The thing is, I’m guilty of it too.
There are days when I have forgotten that lesson taught to me by Matt about, “believing the best.”
As a follower of Jesus I am reminded this morning that believing the best is something that I’m called to from a deeper place. It’s part of my new identity. I am called to believe the best because I recognize my own weaknesses, my own need for grace, and my own hope for mercy. You see, I need grace and mercy from the people in my life because I’m so deeply flawed. If I’m deeply flawed, then I can’t expect others to not be deeply flawed. All of us need grace and mercy. All of us are carrying around planks in our eyes, when we are able to recognize this reality then we are able to offer up grace to our neighbor and their speck.
Let’s not be hypocrites. Let’s not act like we have it all together. Let’s recognize our own sin sickness and engage the world from a position of humility.