Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, “Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,” when you have a log in your own eye?
You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
[This is a continuation of Jesus’ teaching about judging others. He is explaining to his disciples how they can be “more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.” (See Day 23)].
The first thing I think of is how harsh this seemed the first time I read it. Of course I was reading it with a dour, religious mindset. I see it differently now. It’s that wry Jesus humor again. He’s not actually accusing anyone while he says this; he’s making a joke. It’s the same sense of humor he displayed in Day 28 when he was telling people to take out their eyes and throw them away. Now he’s making a gross joke about people walking around with logs in their eyes.
He is using humor to emphasize a serious concept – that we should concentrate on our own problems instead of trying to fix other people. Today any good counselor, secular or Christian, will give you the same advice.
My mom started experiencing a slow decline starting when she was about 80 years old. She just wasn’t herself. I spent hours and hours on the phone with my sisters and dad trying to figure out what to do with mom to get her to snap out of it. Everybody had different strategies. Dad thought she needed more activity and determination. One of my sisters thought she had depression and needed a psychologist or drugs. My other sister and I thought we could talk or pray her out of it.
Looking back, I can see we all had logs in our eyes. We didn’t want to admit that she was slowly dying. My mom had a heart condition, a brain tumor, and dementia and she looked like this.
To me and my sisters with our log-impaired vision, we thought she still had the potential to look like this:
And my dad was even worse. I think his loggy eye saw this:
None of us wanted to admit that we couldn’t fix her. Our logs prevented us from seeing the truth. What we also couldn’t see was that her problem was really just a speck compared to ours.
I have a really good digital camera. It always takes good pictures. And yet, shortly before she died, I took this picture.
This is an untouched photo and I don’t know what all those funny colors are about. I have never taken a picture like this before or after. It was as though her vibrant spirit was already only partially contained by her body and was eager to take flight. The camera was able to see something that our eyes could not, because of our logs. She was doing great. All she had was a little speck called a failing body.
I think we could have all been kinder to Mom. We could have stopped pushing her to do things she couldn’t do. We spent way too much time trying to make her live up to our expectations. We all loved her, but we were thinking too much about ourselves and not enough about her. I think we made her feel like she was a failure because she was dying. I could see it in her eyes. I should have brought her more flowers. I wish I had brought her more flowers.
So there you go. The next time I feel like taking a speck out of someone’s eye, I will take a look in the mirror because I will certainly see a log if I look long and hard enough. Having done that I will give it up and accept the other person as is. Maybe the two of us could then get into a good conversation about our experiences with eye injuries. That’s a Jesus joke. Lighten up. It’s all good.
What does this scripture say to you?