-Spoken by Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5 (ICB)
A Family Devotion on Matthew 7:1-5 (A Speck & A Log)
These verses were spoken by Jesus and recorded by Matthew around the year AD 60. Matthew was a tax collector who was called by Jesus to be one of his twelve disciples during His three years of ministry.
The book of Matthew is the link between the Old Testament prophecy and the New Testament fulfillment of that prophecy. It was not written as a chronological account of Jesus’s life but rather as a testimony, to present clear evidence that Jesus was The Messiah. It contains over 125 references to Old Testament scripture. Within the book of Matthew, we see Jesus’ life from His ancestors, parents, and birth to His later ministry and eventual crucifixion and resurrection. The verses in Matthew 5-7 make up the Sermon on the Mount, the longest of Jesus’ speeches in the entire Bible. The Sermon on the Mount contains the Lord’s Prayer, the Beatitudes, and many instructions for living that pervade modern culture. Scholars agree that it most likely wasn’t one speech but rather many teachings that took place over a series of days on a hillside near Capernaum. The primary theme of the Sermon on the Mount is that faithful obedience of the heart is more important than legalistic observance of the law, but it covers a wide variety of subjects from the need for God to anger and other emotions, from swearing to how to treat your enemies, from money to prayer, and from evangelism to the law.
Connect the dots:
The passage above is near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus is talking here about judging people, comparing, and feeling superior or inferior to others. As I was growing up, my mom was endlessly critical – of me and my siblings, of herself, and of everyone else. After a social engagement, she spent the entire ride home criticizing what people wore and what they said and did. I remember many a Christmas evening, on the long drive home from family, as my mom rehashed everything that happened during the visit, and especially all the things she didn’t like. Growing up with that kind of critical, angry attitude, it’s what I learned, and it’s now my default. When I meet someone new, I always unconsciously size her up to see whether she’s better than me or worse than me. I notice if her skirt doesn’t fit just right or if she’s having a bad hair day, and I secretly gloat. I hate this part of myself, and I have worked hard over the last twenty years to change it. The best mirror is your kids, right? I know I’m not doing a good job of hiding my impulses when these critical words come out of my daughters’ mouths. Recently, we were on the way home from a Girl Scout meeting when my 7-year-old said, “Did you see what Mary did? She stood right in front of me, and it was my turn. She is so annoying!” and I died a little inside. There is certainly a place for airing your feelings and processing those, but I am afraid that my mom’s way will become my girls’ default like it has always been mine. So back to the verses. These are not easy verses, not at all. The things we notice and hate in other people are almost always the things we are afraid of and hate about ourselves: Conceit. Vanity. Selfishness. Rage. We all experience these emotions, and I think we all worry about being consumed by them or thought less of because of them. And then, we all find them in others and magnify them to make our own problems not so bad by comparison. That’s exactly what Jesus meant when He called us hypocrites. A hypocrite is someone who measures others by standards that they themselves fail to meet, like when a parent who eats a banana in the grocery store punishes her child for stealing a candy bar. It’s the same crime; it just looks a little different. Jesus goes on to talk about a speck of dust and a log. This is a funny illustration, but it’s so good. It’s like two little kids who are playing in a mud puddle, and one says to the other, “You’re filthy!” That’s what God sees when one broken, flawed human being criticizes another. He doesn’t want us to criticize or judge each other. Note there are exceptions to this, like when someone is in danger. Then we should not just judge but act on that judgment and get help for them. A good example of this would be a brother or sister riding their bike without a helmet. You see it, you judge that it is not safe, and then you should tell your mom or dad about it.
- Am I always finding fault with others?
- What faults do I see in others and how do I show those same faults?
Dear Heavenly Father, Please help me to see the good in other people. Show me the way to mercy and grace instead of judgment and criticism. Heal me and remove my faults so that I can gladly accept the faults of others without judging them. Help me to see people as You see them, as wonderful and blameless spirits worthy of love and acceptance. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.