Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
Matthew 7:4 (NASB)
Speck, log – There’s an interesting relationship here. At first we instantly notice that a speck is tiny and the log, or beam, is quite large. But do we derive a teaching upon the size alone?
For the most part, we do. We explain that we can’t judge others because we all have something, some sort of sin, in our own lives. And we reason that any judgment toward a sinner would be hypocritical on our part. Or maybe we claim that those of us with major sin in our own lives shouldn’t judge those with lesser sins. This is practical, right? But is it really what’s going on?
Have you ever thought about the other relationship between the two words? Karphos is a speck, splinter, or small dried up twig. The other word, dokos, is a large beam, log, or plank. They are both pieces of wood. They both belong to the same family – the same family of sin, metaphorically speaking.
Remember in John 7:24, we’re called to judge righteously. This is taken directly from Leviticus 19:15. That being said, our initial claim of not judging at all is incorrect. When we continue reading, clarity is given.
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
So putting this together, if we have wood in our eye (guilty of a sin) and we’re judging someone for the wood in their eye (that same sin), then we’re hypocrites. It’s only when we are not committing the same sin that we can judge righteous judgment.
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
The lesson is about proper judgment. One cannot judge someone for the same sin wherein they are guilty. A person can only pass judgment if they are innocent of that particular sin.
Let’s take a look at the adulterous woman brought before Yeshua. The remark by Yeshua that “he who is without sin may cast the first stone” might be quite different from what we initially think. First, Yeshua is supporting the law which dictates that an adulterous woman, when caught in the act, should be stoned. He’s not saying, don’t stone her. The law also requires that the male be stoned as well, so Yeshua must of known the male was present, though not identified yet. But to go one further, we know that Yeshua, in order to be perfectly sinless, had to abide by God’s law, which means that stoning was perfectly legal to do… even by sinners. But what’s interesting is that, as we’ve discussed, those with the same sin are not allowed to pass judgment – they are not allowed to partake of the stoning. So maybe Yeshua is stating “those who are without this same sin may cast the first stone”. And this is why they all left… they were all guilty of adultery. This understanding aligns much closer to the teachings in Torah and with the quotes above.
In order for us to judge righteously as the Bible expects us to, we must first know our own sin. For a believer, this should be quite simple. I know exactly what causes me to stumble. Sin is not some cloud of bad things that we might unexpectedly get wrapped up in… it should be obviously clear where our downfalls happen. Have you done the proper self-examination to identify your sin? Do you know exactly what it is that causes you to trip? Now move forward and remove yourself from every opportunity that tempts you to stumble. Yeshua is your guide, and with Him, all things are possible.