What Does Jesus average by ‘Plank in Your Eye’?
Jesus used the phrase ‘Plank in your eye’ in the famous sermon on the mount scripture. This is very important part of the scripture and so deserves special attention. He used this phrase in the context of judging others. He said it would be better for each of us to first remove the plank in our own eyes before trying to remove the ‘speck of sawdust’ in the others’ eye (Mat 7:5).
We seem to embellish the faults of others while downplaying or not seeing our own faults. Jesus uses the adjective hypocrite while addressing these kind of people. They can only see others’ faults. They are unaware of their own. They are blind of their own faults. So He seems to be waking them up from their slumber, making them aware that they are so much at fault themselves. If only they could try and remove the plank that rested in their eye, they would be free of this plank and they could then see clearly to remove the speck of sawdust from the others’ eye.
One issue leads to another. When we belittle someone because they cannot do something right, we are only belittling ourselves. It is a graver insult than the one you are making because God says that we ought to deal lovingly with others. There may be countless times we may have committed the same offence to other persons knowingly or unknowingly. God knows that we are slow to realise our own faults. He wants us to turn inward and see clearly the wrong thinking, attitudes, perspectives and general hardness of heart that we all suffer from.
There are so many instances when we feel put down by others. But are we doing the same to them? Somebody has to break the cycle. This can happen only when we decide to stop trying to find faults with others and instead correct our own faults. In giving this piece of advice, Jesus is bringing us back to the fact that change can only happen when it starts with you. If you were to remove the plank in your own eye, you could see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. And observe how the usage is so different with us and with others. Jesus refers to our faults as being a plank while referring to the others’ faults as being sawdust. This method that there is a lot more work that each of us have to do on ourselves before we can ever try to change another person.
Jesus was trying to impress the fact that each of us are so inadequate ourselves. We harbour countless weaknesses and limitations in our mind. This restricts us from seeing clearly. We do know the right thing to do but we often do not take adequate action towards doing the right thing ourselves. The hours in a day are limited. There are responsibilities to do and often we have only a few minutes to sit down and look at ourselves. If we have only a few minutes to dwell on our own limitations and faults, we should get busy with that. To use time on others will not allow you sufficient time to dwell on yourself. When we get busy with helping ourselves, we will find that our mind is cleansed a little more, our perspective is changed, our concept of others has improved, our sense of our own limitation has increased and our desire to impose ourselves on others has dwindled. Amen. So be it. Be free from unwanted arguments and learn to embrace true freedom from obeying the information of God. God bless you.