I want to talk about logs.
Regardless of denomination, Christians and “the church” have become known for something.
It’s pointing out other people’s flaws.
Oh, and shaming them afterward, like a dysfunctional version of Oprah: “You get some shame, and you get some shame, and you all get some shame. Now give me money.”
If you just thought, “This isn’t talking to me. I only point out the real sins in people’s lives in an acceptable fashion,” then I am talking to you.
See, there’s a fun little passage in Matthew 7:3 (NIV): “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?” Some translations say the “log” in your own eye.
Raise your hand if you’ve got some logs in your eye—some sinful habits you can’t seem to break.
If you didn’t raise your hand, do so now, because your log is “lying to yourself.”
Jesus spent tons and tons and tons of time telling people to examine their own lives for sin. Not examine their spouses, or their neighbors, or their coworkers, or random strangers. Themselves. Look for your logs. You could build a damn out of them. (That’s not a typo.)
You may not notice your own logs, but other people definitely do.
Why should non-Christians care what Christians have to say about biblical living when they look into our lives and see turmoil, discord, infighting, and resentment?
When they watch us create family feuds, grudges, estranged parents, estranged children, and distant marriages?
When they see us go through life filled with anxiety, worry, anger, self-pity, and fear?
Why should they care about biblical living when it’s clearly not doing anything for us?
If we’re no better off because of our beliefs, and indeed we seem even more upset and more high-strung because we’re going around using those beliefs to sow discord with other people, there’s no reason for anyone to believe what we say.
Jesus said, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2). If we’ve all got logs, we ought to be really worried about that.
And before you say, “Well, you’re just interpreting that too literally,” consider whether you use literal interpretations of certain other verses to support your arguments against other people.
You might point out that the chapter later says, “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” (7:5).
Let me know when you’ve gotten rid of your last log, okay? Once you’re perfect, you can apply the rest of that verse.
What’s that? That’s impossible?
Only Jesus can remove sins? If we tried to take all the logs out of our own eyes, it’d be a full-lifetime job?
Why, I think that might just be His point.
If you’re busy trying to build a strong, lasting marriage; if you’re busy trying to raise healthy, wise, compassionate children; if you’re busy trying to purge yourself of worry, anger, bitterness and self-centeredness; if you’re busy drawing closer to God so that he can deal with your logs, you don’t have time to worry about other people’s specks.
But the results of those efforts—the harmonious family lives, the compassion and generosity to others, the internal peace and strength—those will get noticed. Those will make people say, “Hey, how did you get to be that way?” And you can say, “Here, meet my favorite carpenter. He can break down your logs like He’s breaking down mine.”