I’ve searched the forums regarding the following statement from Jesus:
You hypocrite,* remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye. *
and it doesn’t appear to address how to “remove the wooden beam” from our eyes first.
As I have had this phrase told to me numerous times over the years I have come to the conclusion the only plausible response to this accusation that I am unjustly judging someone is to point out that my point of view is that of one of a sinner whose salvation isn’t secured and as such I’m in the very same boat as the person I am giving advice to, if not outside it paddling and hanging on for dear life.
I wonder what other people’s interpretations are as to how to remove the wooden log out of one’s own eye. Paz.
I take that as a reminder that we are all of us guilty sinners.
We certainly are to call sin sin, whether it is our own or somebody else’s. But before we rip on anybody for minor personal failings that are not serious sin, we need to be sure that our sacraments, prayer life, and **penance **are up to date!
Actually the verse is not about being instructing us on how to “removing the beam” from our eye. It’s about nitpicking another’s faults.
Jesus’ instruction about judging others is meant to be understood relatively. St. Paul at 1 Corinthians 5:12 says that Christians should be not fail to judge those in the Church who will not repent of sinful activity:
For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within?
But all texts on judging have to be read within their own context. At Matthew 7 Jesus is speaking in hyperbole. Right after telling people not to judge others he calls some people “dogs” and “swine” in verse 6. In verse 11 he tells parents that they are “wicked.” He then says that salvation will only come to a “few” in verse 14, etc.
It would be wrong to take it upon ourselves to apply Jesus’ words literally. We wouldn’t call people “dogs” or “swine,” would we? Just because we are imperfect when compared to God doesn’t make all parents literally “wicked,” right? And if only a “few” are really saved, then doesn’t that mean the Gnostics were right and that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct when they say that heavenly life is reserved to just 144,000 people?
As Paul shows us when we read that first letter to the Corinthians, Jesus’ words are not to be applied literally.
At Matthew 7:5 Jesus is talking about how we often fall into the trap of picking on another’s faults. Jesus tells us that we should be more concerned with our own debt of sin. The “speck” or “splinter” in the eyes of others are faults that do not compare to the “wooden beam” of sin that leads to death which we all carry.
Jesus isn’t saying that we have the ability to remove this “wooden beam” ourselves. He is telling us we can’t relieve ourselves of the sins we have committed against God on our own merits, so we shouldn’t concern ourselves with the minor faults we see in others. We are in no position to correct our neighbor anymore than we are in a position to save ourselves.
As I mentioned in the previous sentences of my post, context needs to be used when reading material.
To “correct” something means more than just “suggest a change.” It can actually mean to change or make different. For example, if I need to correct the work I did on a math problem when in school, I would erase my previous work and rewrite it. In this instance “correct” means to completely change.
I was using the word “correct” in this context. Note this when reading that last sentence again: as we are powerless save ourselves so we are powerless to correct (meaning) change others.
Thus we shouldn’t be nitpicking others, which is what Matthew 7:5 is about. Since we can’t really change them and we have our own “wooden beam” to worry about, what is the point?
I was also not limiting what I has posted to exclude the points you bring up. You see, my post was not based on my own opinion of the text. It was taken from the commentary of the St. Ignatius RSV-CE 2nd edition study Bible, the New American Bible footnotes, and the Navarre Bible New Testament. I just put them in my own words.
Based on the context of Jesus own words I believe it goes beyond “not nitpicking”,
“then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”
I expect it is leading us to the correct frame of mind in order to be effective with our fellow men. I believe this is personal humility and recognition of the severity of one’s own sins in the eyes of God. Paz.
The above references do not contradict your point, and neither was I. Either you misread what I wrote or I am just bad at writing. However if you note in the middle of my post, I also made reference to one of St. Paul’s letters, where he says:
Is it not your business to judge those within?–1 Corinthians 5:12b.
So the view of the above cited references are in no way in opposition to what you are suggesting.
However, these same Bible commentaries do make the point that Jesus was not instructing people to clarify their view or self in order to make judgments on how they can better critique their neighbor and point out their faults. Legitimate need for correcting aside, the Navarre Bible states that our Lord had the following in mind:
We should practise fraternal charity, and not be out to condemn people…Recalling this passage, St. Augustine advises: “Try to acquire those virtues which you think your brothers lack, and you will no longer see their defects, because you will not have them yourselves” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 30, 2, 2).–The Navarre Bible, New Testament, commentary to Matthew 7:1-12.
To reiterate, legitimate need for correcting aside, this text is about removing the “wooden beam” that consists of sin, mainly that which moves us to condemn others, motivating us to constantly judge them or that makes us feel justified in our practice of constantly criticizing. This does not negate your comments, just adds that the focus is not on working on oneself in order to see ways to correct your neighbor.
On the contrary the Lord wants us to strive to see things from God’s perspective in order to “stop judging” and “no longer see” the “splinter” that we feel we are entitled to point out in others.