Specks, logs, planks,
“How can you say to another believer, ‘Friend, let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye.â€
Today marks the last Sunday of the Pre-Lenten season. It confronts us with the hardest challenge we can face in life, the tendency to be judgmental toward others while simultaneously failing to perceive our sins and failings.
There are two keys here. First, how easy it is to perceive the failings in another, and to turn that perception into an accusation. How hurtful and damaging to the target. Beyond that, how often we fail to understand the reality behind another personâ€™s perceived weaknesses. We never know the real reason, the hurt, the pain, the negative experience behind anotherâ€™s minor failing.
Second, it really isnâ€™t that we fail to see the plank â€“ the hugeness of failings â€“ in our lives. They are exactly huge because they are so close to us. My unbridled passions, lusts, desires, cruelties â€“ huge!
Jesus really hits home in calling us hypocrites exactly because we already know our failings. We see them clearly every day â€“ and yet we turn to hurt another. Wow!
In preparation for Lent we are called to attack the log, the plank, that huge dead tree in the middle of our lives. We are called into a holy season that is to be filled with action. We arenâ€™t to go into a solitary cell, sit quietly, and ponder our dead tree. We are to take action, cutting it down and replacing it with the most life-giving tree of all â€“ the Cross.
Jesus is calling us to go deep in removing that dead tree. The dead tree, the dead roots, all must go. Then we will come to conversion so that we â€œbear good fruit.â€ We are then that good man [who] out of the good treasure of his heart produces good. Then people will know who we are for out of the godly abundance of the heart will our mouths speak.
There are two kinds of trees we can focus on. We can live in a forest of death and accusation or come to the Tree of Life. Throughout Lent we are going to focus on getting back to the Life tree â€“ to Eden, that paradise God has prepared for us. The place of joy, peace, and true life.
In Eden there are no dead trees, there are no planks, logs, or specks. We do not look at a another and pass judgment. We see in them Jesus and another self. If we perceive in them hurt, pain, or negative experience we do not accuse. Rather we actively heal them. We gather them under and into the life-giving tree. Jesus has opened the door to Eden for us. Let us go to the Life tree.