Blind to My Own Mess
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Luke 6:41
I can remember multiple occasions several years ago, when others in church offended me. Each time, believing myself to be in the right and the other person to be obviously wrong, I lashed out in what I thought was righteous anger. Looking back, it’s possible that the positions I supported were actually right, but at the time, I was abusing drugs. It’s not just that the chemicals poisoned my judgement. The worst thing about my response was my gross hypocrisy. There I stood, angrily pointing out another’s error, while remaining completely blind to my own disastrous life.
In today’s passage, Jesus calls us out on this type of behavior. Using the metaphor of an eye, he asks a painful question: Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Jesus goes on to insist that we must first remove the log from our own eye before we point out anyone else’s problems.
This phenomenon is a painful reality that most of us are guilty of, even if we’re not aware of it. The problem is that we are so good at seeing the stupidity of others, while justifying our own. It’s different when I do it. I have a good reason. You don’t know what it’s like to be me! We feel better about our own failures when we focus on the failures of others.
In our self-induced blindness, we engage in absurd hypocrisy. To avoid this, Jesus says we must first address our own life problems. Does this mean we must live perfectly before helping anyone else? No – none of us will be perfect in this life. What it does mean, is that we’re not very useful to another addict while addicted ourselves. Can a blind man lead a blind man (Luke 6:36)?
The life of the disciple is one of continual, painful introspection. This is what AA calls a “daily inventory”. How did I do today? Where did I fail? What must I work on tomorrow? This requires discipline and hard work, which is why most of us don’t do it. To avoid hideous Christian hypocrisy though, Jesus insists we must humbly address our own mess before attempting to help anyone else with theirs.