30 July, 2014
The Hearing and Doing of The Word of God
J. R. Miller
The Sermon on the Mount tells us the kind of people Christians should be. The Beatitudeswith which it opens, show us pictures of the character that is like God.
There is a legend which says that when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden, an angel broke the gates into pieces, and the fragments flew all over the earth. The gems and precious stones which are picked up now in different parts of the world are these fragments of the paradise gates. It is only a fanciful legend—but it is true that in the Beatitudes, the Commandments, and other divine revealings of heavenly character we have fragments of the image of God which was on the man's soul at the beginning—but which was shattered when man fell. The Sermon on the Mount is full of these gleaming fragments. We should study them to learn God's thought for our lives. Some of these shining words we have in our present study.
The Master said, "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?" Luke 6:41. It is strange, how blind we can be to our own faults and blemishes; and how clearly at the same time we can see those of other people! A man can see a very small speck of dust in his neighbor's eye, while he is entirely unaware of the plank in his own eye. We would say that a plank in a man's eye would so blind him that he could not see the mote in his brother's eye. As Jesus expresses it, however, the man with the plank is the very one who sees the mote—and thinks himself competent to pull it out!
So it is in the common life. No man is so keen in seeing faults in another—as he who has some great fault of his own. A vain man—is the first to detect indications of vanity in another. A bad-tempered person—is most apt to be censorious toward another who displays irritability. One with a sharp, uncontrolled tongue—has the least patience with another whose speech is full of poisoned arrows. A selfish man—discovers little motes of selfishness in his neighbor. Rude people—are the first to be hurt by rudeness in others. If we are quick to perceive blemishes and faults in others—the probability is that we have similar and perhaps far greater faults in ourselves! This truth ought to make us exceedingly careful in our judgment, and modest in our expression of censure.
"How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?" We do not know through what experiences our brother has passed, to receive the hurts and scars on his life which seems so ugly, so disfiguring, in our eyes. It would scarcely be in good taste for a dainty civilian, at the end of a day of battle, to criticize the soiled and torn garments and blood-stained face of the soldier just out of the struggle. We do not know through what fierce battles our brother has fought, when we look critically upon his character and note peculiarities which offend us. The marks which we call faults—may be but the scars received in life's hard battles, marks of honor, decorations of bravery and loyalty—if we only knew it.
If we knew the real cause of all that seems unlovely in those we meet, we would have more patience with them. "But is it not a kindness to a friend—to take the mote out of his eye?" someone asks. "If we meet a neighbor with a cinder in his eye, would it not be a brotherly thing to stop and take it out for him? Even if we have whole lump of coal in our eye at the same time, would it not be a kindly act for us to desire to relive our suffering fellow-man? Then it is not just as true a kindness, to want to cure another's fault, even though we have the same fault in more aggravated form in ourselves?"
If we did it in the right spirit—it would be. But the trouble is, that we are not apt to look at our neighbor's faults in this loving and sympathetic way. It is the self-righteous spirit that our Lord is here condemning. A man holds up his hands in horror at the speck he has found in his neighbor's character; and his neighbor sees in him—an immensely magnified form of the same speck! Will the neighbor be likely to be greatly benefitted by the rebuke he receives in these circumstances? Suppose a bad-tempered man lectures you on the sin of giving way to temper; or a dishonest man lectures you on some apparent lack of honesty; or a liar lectures you on the wickedness of falsehood; or a rude-mannered man lectures you on some little discourtesy of yours; or a hypocrite lectures you on insincerity; what good will such lectures do you, even admitting that you are conscious of the faults? "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye!" Luke 6:42