Have you ever had someone cast a disparaging look your way? You know the type of look I mean – that condescending, snide look of judgment that makes you cringe. If you’ve never experienced that kind of contemptible attitude, you’re lucky.
We live in a very judgmental world today. If you look different, act different, speak different and, even think differently, there are some people who will harshly judge you. There is of course a difference between making an innocent observation about someone vs. judging them.
Say you meet someone at a party who doesn’t speak English.
One person might observe: “He seems so nice! He’s struggling with the language, but he made such a great effort to get to know people.”
– or –
As is more the case today, one might judge: “Did you get a load of that guy who couldn’t speak a word of English. I wanted to say “Hey, buddy, learn the language if you’re going to come to my country. He’s probably here illegally anyway.”
There is in fact, a big difference, because in one, a fair, accurate observation is being made that the man didn’t speak English. In the other, he is being judged harshly due to assumptions being made about him, which may not be true.
We’ve been sharing the Parables in recent months because the lessons they teach have withstood the test of time — they are as relevant today as they were when Christ shared them with man.
The speck and the log is a popular parable and for good reason:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Jesus explains what type of judging He is talking about through the parable “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Jesus is talking about the hypocritical type of judgment in which we are quick to point out…and even exploit, the wrong in others lives, while ignoring the wrongs in our own life. It’s also important to recognize that the parable ends with “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Personally, I don’t believe this means that once you do, you are free to judge harshly, but more means once you have removed the plank out or your own eye, you are then in a better position to help your brother.
This parable of course is often misused, as some take it to mean one should never judge another. However, we do need to be able to observe and conclude and we of course need to recognize the difference between good and bad, as well as right from wrong. So this parable isn’t saying we can’t use critical and reflective thinking, but rather, is speaking against the type of judgmental attitudes that try to make others look like less than we believe ourselves to be, by pointing out their flaws without acknowledging our own.
Today, we have a great deal of hypocritical and arrogant judging. People are quick to ridicule someone because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin. Why? We are all equal and no other person is below, or above us.
The Parables aren’t just for Christians because they teach us valuable lessons that apply to every one of us. I particularly like this parable because it helps us to stop and think — am I being critical and judging another person, when I myself am not without flaw and fault? Am I judging someone simply because they’re a different race or religion? Am I belittling someone because they speak a different language than I do?
If we all accepted our differences and celebrated them as positives, perhaps there would be more harmony in the world. To have true positivity in our life, we need to let go of unjust judgment. Today is a good day to get that plank out of our own eye, before we rush to tell someone they have a speck in theirs.