Many years ago a former boss was traveling to a football game in Mobile, Alabama. A decorated World War II veteran he suffered serious vision troubles because of his time in a prisoner of war camp. He was driving and chatting with a notable football coach who rode along with him.
Suddenly, and without slowing the car: “Hey, that traffic light…is it red or green?”
“What?” the coach asked.
“The light. Is it red or green, I can’t tell.”
“Stop! “ He shrieked. “It’s red!”
As he retold this story to me many years later he chuckled. “Coach made me pull over right then. He never let me drive again.”
Impaired vision is serious. It’s serious when driving but also very serious when navigating through life. Jesus warned that we need to have clear vision so we can help others who sometimes stumble.
Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5; The NET translation)
Sometimes we are blinded by our own clouded view. We see problems in the lives of others but are blinded to our own shortcomings. Jesus teaches us to first check our own vision and make it clear. Only then will we find ourselves in a position to help others.
Jesus does not teach us, however, that we are to be paralyzed. He does not teach us to do nothing until we are perfect for that would mean that no one could teach, encourage or even rebuke. None are perfect, all are sinful (Romans 3:23). After all, the apostle did teach that we are to “…reprove, rebuke and exhort…” (2 Timothy 4:2).
In the context of Matthew 7, Jesus teaches us to use righteous judgment and to understand that the kind of judgment we apply to others will also be applied to us. “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2).
Think of it as a kind of Golden Rule of judging. Judge others the way you would have them judge you.
Knowing that we will be judged, how would you want to be judged? Righteously. Truthfully. Accurately. With love. With compassion. These are the qualities of true Godly judgment. But they are powerfully difficult to attain.
Nevertheless, let us strive to clear our own field of vision so we can apply these qualities to our daily interactions with others.