Seeing Clearly to Help a Brother

Understanding the Red Letters   Part 25

The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5 through 7 is a very complicated part of the gospel.  In these chapters, Jesus teaches Law, Jesus teaches old covenant, and Jesus points forward to the coming new covenant.  And these focuses are intermixed throughout these chapters.  One of the undervalued pieces of Jesus’ presentation is how much of it is prophetic; again, pointing forward.  Matthew 7:1-5 is one of these passages.

I think the most well-known verse in the Bible, particularly among those who have never read the Bible, is Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.”  The command not to judge others is universally approved (though rarely put into practice).  Remember when we were kids?  One of our favorites phrases was, “You’re not the boss of me!” as we tried to announce our independence.  As adults, “You’re not the judge of me!” has become ours and society’s mantra.  But is “you’re not the judge of me” really what Jesus is saying here?

Let’s continue the passage.  “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, …”(Matthew 7:2-5a)

This is usually where we stop the thought in this passage of Scripture.  And we conclude that it teaches, “You hypocrite, you have your own giant problems so stop correcting your brother” or “With such great flaws of your own, stop trying to point out your brother’s minor ones.”  In short, “Don’t judge.  In fact, never ever ever ever judge others.”  This is where typical preaching on this passage leaves us.

But this isn’t where Jesus stops the thought.  Let’s read all of verse 5, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and you will see clearly enough to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).  Is there really a role for us to play in “taking the speck out of our brother’s eye”?  Rather than falling for the notion that we all have so many problems that we should not be assisting others with theirs, Jesus calls us to start by taking action about our own sin; removing the log in our own eye.

We are to remove the log – be willing to address our own blind spots – in our own eye so that we will be clear-seeing and equipped to help our brother.  Jesus is not saying to ignore each others’ sins.  He is telling us to take care of our own challenges first before we go too far down the path of trying to “help” our brother.

How do we get the log out of our own eye?  The short answer is that when we allow Christ to live His life in and though us, we see areas or blind spots in ourselves that need to change.  And the beautiful promise to new covenant believers is that Jesus has given us the power to change.  Sin is no longer our master.

Remember, at the time of this message, nobody knew what was coming in the new covenant.  Nobody knew about the promise of a new power over sin that was coming to those who believed in Jesus.  Nobody knew that the power to remove the log from our own eye was coming to us through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

This passage is actually being prophetic.  It is looking ahead to what is coming in this new covenant body, the church.  Fast forward to Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”

“You who are spiritual” is the one who understands grace and practices grace.  In a loving community of believers, those who are spiritual (those who has been captured by the power of grace to fuel our godly living) are to help our brothers and sisters along the way.  There no condemnation in helping our struggling brother in this way, only gentleness.

One thought on “Seeing Clearly to Help a Brother”

  1. Although Jason Wolin did not address this specifically in his brief “fly over” the Sermon on the Mount Sunday, what he said ties in well, I believe.

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