Jesus raised an excellent point in this section of scripture. It is one of the great problems of mankind today and he showed up this flaw in human nature which is incredibly damaging.
It is the issue of criticism and condemnation.
What is the Log in Your Eye?
There are people in this world who have made a career out of criticism. We have film critics, fashion critics, music critics, food critics and so on. Peoples careers and livelihoods are often affected by the whims of these people, and so I ask, is criticism a good thing?
Now when we take this down to an individual level it can get quite personal. There are many people who criticise others indiscriminately and for hurtful reasons. It can be bitter and spiteful and wrongfully colour the opinions of other people.
The apostle Paul made this remark in his letter to Timothy, which highlights the danger of such talk. He said,
Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. (2 Timothy 2:16-17)
Godless chatter. That is exactly what criticism is all about. It is a means by which people undermine the position of others for less than honourable purposes.
What Should We Do About It?
Paul’s advice to Timothy pretty much sums it up. Avoid such godless chatter. Avoid the temptation to enter into criticism for it is not of God.
Criticism is a form of condemnation and judgement. When we criticise another person we are judging and condemning them and most criticism is of a negative nature. This is not the behaviour of a Christian and is to be avoided.
Now you may be thinking that Christ and the apostles criticised people. They did after all say things like “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,” and, “You brood of vipers.” Pretty strong words! But they were not criticising the scribes and Pharisees personally, they were critical of what they were teaching. Their hypocrisy was in what the were saying and doing, or not doing.
The maxim that you should judge the deed not the person is a good analogy of the position to take on this matter. But when Jesus gave this message about taking the log out of your own eye before attempting to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, his concern was about personal criticism and judgement. It is not our position to judge another nor our right to do so. As James wrote, “There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor?” (James 4 12)
The approach we are to take is to first take care of our own issues and problems. If the Lord leads us we can help others, but it is not for us to judge them for we do not have that right.