“Don’t judge people, and you won’t be judged yourself. You’ll be judged, you see, by the judgment you use to judge others! You’ll be measured by the measuring-rod you use to measure others! Why do you stare at the splinter in your neighbour’s eye, but ignore the plank in your own? How can you say to your neighbour, “Here – let me get that splinter out of your eye,” when you’ve got the plank in your own? You’re just play-acting! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you’ll see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your neighbour’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 (NTE)
So often when it comes to having real and healthy relationships, problems and tensions arise. Typically human nature leans toward the problem or tension being the fault of others. We can find ourselves living with an unhealthy, internal attitude that sounds like “It’s not me, its you”.
In this passage in Matthew 7, Jesus is making the point that the greatest change necessary in our relationships and view of others starts with us. Jesus uses this graphic imagery of a person with a large plank of wood protruding from their eye attempting to assist someone else who has a mere splinter in their eye.
Three Thoughts on the Plank and Splinter...
- The plank is far greater in size and impact than the splinter and therefore is first in priority to remove. A splinter is irritating but a plank prevents progress.
- The plank is blinding the vision of the one who seeks to help the one with the splinter – therefore anything we claim to see in someone else is in fact a projection of what is in our own eye.
- The plank is more damaging than the splinter – damaging to its owner and anybody within proximity of the plank. Just consider how you would hurt people with your plank whenever you came close to them.
Three Takeaways from this Passage
Jesus is not necessarily condemning us for not being perfect, rather, He is addressing the spirit of pride represented by not dealing with the part we play in imperfect relationships. Arrogance, our own insecurities and ignorance can cause us to believe that we are always right, and the issue is the other person. We attempt to fix everyone else’s annoying habits before first dealing with our own. It is easy to deflect responsibility … to point the finger at the other person.
Make a decision to pass on being judgmental of others. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in you to let go of your pride and insecurity.
We all have planks – what matters is that we recognize, repent and make an intentional choice to deal with them. We need to take ownership for our personal shortcomings and make choices to grow by allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us and to change any planks we might have. Be open to what God might ask you to work on in yourself. When we do so, we find personal freedom and capacity to relate well to others and be a source of help to those around us.
See from the Other Side
With a plank in your eye, your vision is impaired and you cannot get close to the person you are looking at. Maturity in relationships occurs when we see things from the other person’s perspective. Even if two people have planks in their eyes, if they come alongside and focus in the same direction, they can get close enough to help each other. Rather than judging another, we can have compassion, empathy and listen, extending grace and kindness to their splinter. We also need to intentionally forgive when an offense has taken place (Ephesians 4:32).
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in all our interactions. This requires us to keep in tune with the Spirit so that we are able to sense His heart and perspective on matters involving others. Galatians 5:25 – 6:5 (NTE) encourages us to line ourselves up with the Spirit, and adopt a spirit of gentleness with all people.
Something to talk about:
- Encourage each other with examples of how you’ve been able to confront the ‘plank’ in your own eye and what was the outcome.
- Share amongst the group times of when you’ve received kindness and compassion from others and how it made you feel.
- Galatians 5:25 encourages us to adopt a spirit of gentleness with all people. Discuss times you have seen gentleness and kindness soften a person's heart and attitude.
- Pray together for opportunities to be kind and gentle with people, so we can help bring God's love, and even salvation, to them.