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“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”
A GENTLE REBUKE
Some vehicles are now built with ‘self-correcting’ technology. When this function is enabled, the vehicle can ‘sense’ if it is getting too close to the sidelines of well-marked roads. The steering wheel automatically turns slightly enough to stay within the lane.
Although our personal van is installed with this ability, my wife and I usually disengage the option while driving. It can be really awkward to have a vehicle give you correction while your hands are on the steering wheel. However, we understand why this technology exists. Staying on the road is essential!
As disciples of Jesus, all of us know that there is a particular path of righteousness for us to walk upon. This Jesus-like living is full of joy and freedom as we seek first the Kingdom of God (Mt 6:33), stay in step with the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:25) and say no to the desires of flesh and the eyes (1 John 2:16).
However, unlike driving, there are moments when we don’t ‘self-correct’ and have no clue that we are heading into dangerous terrain. This happens because “the heart is deceitful above all else” (Jeremiah 17:9). It can be very easy for us to behave in a particular way which is quite destructive to ourselves, to others and especially to our relationship with God.
In Matthew 7, Jesus doesn’t use the image of trespassing beyond a path. Instead, he uses the illustration of a log sticking out of our eye. When overcome by sinful behavior, humans easily become blind to our own rebellion - even if it is quite obvious to others.
This would be a terrible dilemma if Jesus had not created us to live in the context of Christian community. Certainly the Holy Spirit and God’s Holy written Word serve as divine tools for corrective discipline, but our faith community is intended to participate in that work as well.
Notice that Jesus says, “then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Mt 7:5b). How easily we forget that a loving rebuke is one of the greatest benefits of living life with other Christians. Unfortunately, genuine accountability has become incredibly foreign to many believers.
As our society grows increasingly individualistic and isolated, any transition into authentic spiritual relationships becomes harder to establish. Many times our only understanding of Christian community is defined by a brief experience on Sundays - an experience which requires little social interaction.
Yet, each of us need spiritual friends who gently nudge us in the right direction.
When was the last time that you intentionally asked a friend to follow-up with your daily approach to Bible reading, your tithing habits or your thought life?
When have you approached a fellow believer blinded by sin and sought to gently restore him/her onto the path of life?
Although these questions may sound foreign, they shouldn’t be. But, it takes intentional effort and vulnerability to enter the arena of ‘speck removal.’ In which relationships might you find the joy of authentic Christian accountability?
Lord, help us to seek and cultivate the kind of spiritual relationships which reflect your teachings and heart. Though Jesus, Amen!