3 “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? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 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.
Jesus finishes THE SERMON with a series of admonitions or warnings pointing out the common pitfalls on the path to a life becoming the holiness of love.
He begins by diagnosing a very common cancer of the soul, the spirit of judgment. The moment I turn my attention to judge another human being, at this moment I can be sure my own soul is sick with sin cancer. Unless I do something about this, the life of my spirit will cease growing and I will slowly and silently slip into the soul’s sickness of hypocrisy.
We cannot underestimate how serious this is. A spirit of judgment toward others is terminal cancer for the soul.
Thankfully, he proceeds to give us a treatment plan that will at best put this cancer into remission and if followed rigorously, can have a very high cure rate. The answer is not to bring yourself under the judgment of your own inner kangaroo court. It is to submit yourself to the gentle scrutiny of the Holy Spirit.
In the following excerpt, Wesley will seem anything but gentle. His shocking tone is intended to jolt us out of the denial of our carelessness and into the seriousness of this condition. If you are like me and have a tendency to skip over readings like the one that follows, it could be a symptom that something is wrong.
“Thou hypocrite!” who pretendest to care for others, and hast no care for your own soul; who makest a show of zeal for the cause of God, when in truth thou neither love nor fear him! “First cast out the beam out of thine own eye.” Cast out the beam of impenitence! Know thyself! See and feel thyself a sinner! Feel that your inward parts are very wickedness, that thou art altogether corrupt and abominable, and that the wrath of God abideth on thee! Cast out the beam of pride; abhor thyself; sink down as in dust and ashes; be more and more little, and mean, and base, and vile in thine own eyes! Cast out the beam of self-will! Learn what that means, “If any man will come after me, let him renounce himself.” Deny thyself, and take up thy cross daily. Let thy whole soul cry out, “I came down from heaven,”—for so you did, you never-dying spirit, whether you know it or no—“not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Cast out the beam of love of the world! Love not the world, neither the things of the world. Be thou crucified unto the world, and the world crucified unto thee. Only use the world, but enjoy God. Seek all thy happiness in him! Above all, cast out the grand beam, that supine carelessness and indifference! p.209
Here’s a great bit of “chemo-therapy” to get us started from Psalm 139.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way ever lasting.
(In fact, while you are at it, pray yourself through the whole of Psalm 139. It is an excellent example of the gentle way we must learn to handle ourselves in this soul searching work. Remember, it is the harshness with which we treat ourselves that leads us to avoid dealing with ourselves and redirecting our angry energies toward judging others.)
1. The grave problem with carrying a spirit of judgment is the carrier is the last to know. Are you willing to open yourself up for a Holy Spirit scan to see if you have it? Start with Psalm 139. This is not about self guided introspection but the inner searching of the Holy Spirit. There is a big difference.
2. Another tell-tale sign that you are a judgmental person is gossip. Do you readily talk about others in less than edifying ways outside of their presence? Again, there are myriad ways to deceive ourselves that what we are doing is not gossiping.
3. In all the debates about human sexuality swirling about us how do we live true to our convictions without casting judgment on those who do not share our convictions? Even if we are judged harshly by others for our convictions how do we avoid returning the favor?
Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.