37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”Luke 6:37-42, ESV
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 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? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Blind People Can’t See.
You can call me Captain Obvious if you like, but sudden elevation changes are dangerous for blind people because they can not see. This truth does not jump off the page as an incredibly impactful truth until you recognize the context and motivation for Jesus’ saying. So then, let’s put Jesus’ ‘blind people can’t see’ truth in its proper context. Are you blessed or cursed? The answer to that question flows from your relationship to Jesus. If you are blessed, then the command is for you to love the enemies of Christ despite their abuse toward you in Jesus’ name. Loving your enemies requires more than doing good to them. To love our enemies, we must first view them and ourselves correctly.
In this context, Jesus’ obvious statements become so striking. Jesus speaks about the dangers of being blind with the intent to identify all people everywhere as blind. Everyone? Including Christians? Bingo. Jesus uses the words “disciple,” “teacher,” and “brother” to help us not miss who is the blind of his parable. Jesus is saying the ‘blessed’ group of people are blind.
The blessed are blind is an idea easily overlooked for at least three reasons. First, some of our favorite songs teach us that Christians are not blind. The most famous hymn, ‘Amazing Grace,’ directs us to sing, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” When John Newton wrote those iconic words, he clearly drew from the Bible to shape and inform his thoughts. That leads us to the second reason worth mentioning. Passages like 2 Corinthians 4 identify unbelievers as blind, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,” but believers as therefore not blind. Third, we often assume as Christians that we are not the blind of Luke 6 because of our natural tendency toward self-righteousness. It is easy to point out other people’s inability to see clearly, but recognizing our own impaired vision is difficult.
Would You Rather?
Isn’t Jesus’ brevity incredible? Every sentence has a forceful impact. He does not waste breath with extended stories that make his points vague. His parables are punchy and layered. His language is like an arrow in the hand of a master bowman, and Jesus never misses His mark. “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 asked. The hyperbole is poignant. Your brother has a speck, but you have a log. Which can see better in reality? It seems that each of us has impaired vision, but our condition worsens when we hypocritically judge others.
Jesus’ words “judge not” might be the most misunderstood in all the Bible. Usually, those two words are employed by a person who feels guilty and wishes to be free from such an uncomfortable position. Was Jesus really teaching us that judgment is forbidden? Not at all. Jesus intended for us to realize that as we make statements of judgment, we will inevitably be judged by our own words as well. Therefore, when we understand Jesus’ words correctly, we ought to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). When we yield to the temptation of shoot off at the mouth first and ask questions later, we injure people. We must be careful how we use our words.
In Jesus’ parable, the blinded person is seemingly a believer who sees something wrong in their brother and wants to help them. Is there anything wrong with helping your brother? No. Helping your brother is the same as loving your neighbor. The predicament that Jesus addresses is our tendency to ignore our serious problems while attempting to help others with their issues. Lest we overreact to this interpretation, let’s understand that the problem isn’t judgment. The dilemma is before we can genuinely help someone, we must first judge ourselves correctly and remove the obstruction from our own eyes. Jesus has never suggested that Christians look the other way and ignore obvious sins, false beliefs, and inconsistent actions. We ought to be people who stand up for what is right. We ought to be people who keep one another accountable. We ought to be people who are so lovingly bold that we refuse to do nothing as our brother/sister drift away from the faith. Jesus wants us to be bold, loving, dependable, and just. Therefore, he teaches us to judge ourselves first and then help our brother remove that speck obstructing his view.
Jesus is the only person who could have taught such truth without being guilty Himself. Jesus is the sinless Son of God who has never needed someone to remove the speck from His eyes. His judgment is always good, and we would be wise to study Him. If you and I will become effective in our attempts to judge correctly and help people, we must be Jesus’ understudies. How should we interact with immoral people? Study Jesus. How should we interact with stubborn people? Study Jesus. How should we interact with sorrowful people? Study Jesus. However, becoming like Him will take more than reading about Him. The twelve apostles spent every day with Him. Still, even the best of them, Peter, was unable to reproduce in Himself the character of Christ until after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit began His sanctifying work. Christian, study Jesus and rely upon the Holy Spirit to shape you into a fitting vessel for the Father’s grace to pour through into people.