During his ministry, Jesus frequently challenged conventional wisdom, and He also encouraged His followers to radically demonstrate God’s love. He often did this through the use of parables. Jesus used these short stories to relay important instructions and lessons in ordinary language. There are more than 30 parables in the Bible, each with its own dynamic lesson.
Jesus wants us to be agents of mercy, not judgment. Jesus was giving his Sermon on the Mount as he utilized a parable to enlighten us that the measuring stick of judgment we use on others will be used on us. Seemingly, many of us can be hard on others while we seek mercy for ourselves. During the sermon in Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus explains:
“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 referenced a sizable plank of wood in a person’s own eye that completely obstructed his vision. It’s evident that Jesus was not speaking literally here, but instead he used this parable to drive home the truth that people are often blind to their own faults. The natural human tendency is to see shortcomings in others and to be judgmental of their sins while minimizing or excusing our own sins. How clearly are we seeing our fellow man if we are looking at them through our own blind spot?
In this parable, the description that there is a ‘plank’ in our eye, but only a ‘speck’ in our brother’s eye, exposes hypocrisy and self-righteousness. If we hope to help someone else, we must face our own sins and take the plank out of our own eye. Many Christians can relate to both sides of this passage. Sometimes we might be the one helping others with the ‘plank’ in their eye, and sometimes we could be the one being helped with our own blind spots. But, when our eyes are clear of sawdust and planks, we can better see God’s goodness and plan that is laid out for us.