It's easy to use this verse to talk about judging others, but what's harder to talk about, and what we often neglect in this passage of scripture, is looking at a much more subversive evil. Our pride.
Each time I've run my mouth or determined how someone else should live—and without reflecting on my own issues—I fall headlong into pride. I put my own perceived "goodness" above others, when I have my own log to deal with. When you're unwilling to admit your sin is just as ugly, well, Christ calls you and me a hypocrite.
There's an old term people say to one another: "Stay in your lane." Jesus reminds us we should focus on our own troubles rather than stirring up drama or conflict with others and their sin. Were we to take an honest look inward, we'd see we have our hands full. Sadly, self-reflection and humility isn't something celebrated, let alone practiced in our society. But it is something we can cultivate.
When we take the time to look inward and become honest about our own struggles, the mountains we're facing, or the sin we keep falling into, that's when we find healing. We also discover the relational authority to help others process their sin with gentleness as opposed to coming across prideful and hypocritical.
What's easier than self-reflection is harping on other people's issues and belittling them. If we're honest, it's because we want to feel better about ourselves by comparison and that—in its simplest form—is pride. That type of behavior is the opposite of what God desires for us and a broken world. God "opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). The world is already a prideful place when we look around. Businesses become greedy and self-centered. Celebrities care only about themselves and their brands. Giving towards charities and churches are at all-time lows. We don't share, we don't give, we take, and yet have the audacity to say we're not selfish or prideful? The beginning of these deadly attributes is rooted and founded in pride. When we raise ourselves above others and not work on our own troubles, we walk away from humility and take steps toward pride. It's hard to love those around us if we're full of pride. We can't feel God's love because we feel we don't need it. After all, we're better than others, right?
What's easier than self-reflection is harping on other people's issues and belittling them.
So the next time you find yourself quick to judge, take a moment and focus on how you've been selfish or wounded others. When you're able to see you're no different, then you'll discover humility. And when you discover that humility, you'll remember God loves you despite your shortcomings.
And when you're able to remember God's love for you? You'll offer it to others.
1. Take three deep breaths and clear your mind. Now ask God to reveal where there's a log in your eye or you've acted hypocritically. Write what you discover.
2. How does seeing your own "log" produce humility in you? Where can you offer grace to others this week?