What’s That in Your Eye?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”

Luke 6:41

A few months ago, I was trimming trees in my yard. While using a pole saw to reach some high branches, a gust of wind blew sawdust into my eyes. Blinking carefully, I tried to clear them of the tiny bits of wood that felt like sharp stakes. I was able to get rid of all of the sawdust except for one tiny sliver. By the time I made it into the house to rinse my eye with sterile water, it seemed as if my eye were being punctured by a sharp stick. Even when the miniscule piece of sawdust was washed away, my eye felt terrible. I hurried to the eye doctor, who confirmed that my eye had sustained a small scratch. He gave me some eye drops that relieved the pain and kept my eye from becoming infected.

In truth, the particle of wood in my eye was tiny, smaller even than a grain of salt. Yet it felt like a wooden spike. I can’t even imagine how I would have felt if something larger had lodged in my eye, a log, for instance. I would have been completely incapacitated.

When Jesus told us not to worry about a speck in a friend’s eye when we have a log in our own, he understood the absurdity of what he was saying. A person with a log-filled eye would be both unwilling and unable to worry about somebody else’s speck. It would be ludicrous for the one with the log to offer to help the one with the speck.

Of course, Jesus wasn’t talking about literal logs, specks, and eyes in Luke 6:41-42. Rather, he was using this comical image to warn us against moral self-righteousness that focuses on the foibles of others while ignoring our own gross sins. It is not uncommon, for example, for Christians to be utterly puffed up with pride as they deride the sins of others. This is precisely the kind of moral silliness that Jesus is warning us against in this passage. And it is precisely the kind of moral silliness that infects our churches, families, neighborhoods, and workplaces.

Notice that there is still a place for helping others to remove their ethical specks: “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (6:42). Yet this help comes only after I have dealt with my own moral log. Thus, I come to help others with profound humility, knowing that my own sin is great and in great need of a great Savior. I assist others only because I have been forgiven. Thus I help folks remove their speck, not as their moral superior, but as their humble servant, as one who has been saved only by God’s grace. In a day when Christians are often rightly perceived to be arrogant, judgmental, and hypocritical, we would do well to take seriously the logs in our own eyes before we rush to deal with other people’s specks.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Why might we be inclined to focus on the speck in the eyes of another rather than the log in our own eye? What is your log? Or what are your logs? Have you acknowledged these to God in confession? Have you asked him to remove them from your moral eye?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, indeed, I do find it much easier to attend to the sins of others than to acknowledge my own. It’s as if my conscience is wired to be a speck locator for other people, but a log ignorer when it comes to my own life. Forgive me, Lord, for my arrogance, my ignorance, and my silliness.

Help me to pay attention to the logs in my eye. May I be willing to acknowledge my sin: to see it, to name it, to confess it. May I live each day in humility, as someone who has been forgiven much. And if I am ever called upon to help others with their specks of sin, may I do so as one from whose eye you have removed many logs. Amen.