The Comparison Trap: Jesus on Judgment, Part 3


Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

One danger in human judgment is that we use the flaws, foibles, and sins of other human beings to make us feel better about ourselves.

We validate our lives and our choices by comparing them to lives and choices of others, and so our judgment is not without bias and is actually extremely personal in nature.

We’re NOT impartial; we’re making our judgments of OTHERS based on what others’ choices say about US.

That makes us dangerous.

As dangerous as a man with a log in his eye attempting to take a speck out of his brother’s.

The likely outcome will be a lost eye. And when it comes time for us to face judgment ourselves, the eyes we gouged out will be held to our account.

Opting Out of Judgment

You’ll be judged with the judgment you used, the standard of right and wrong you defined.

You’ll be measured with the measure you adopted and wielded against others.

That’s only fair.

You can, however, opt out. You can humble yourself and say, “I am not qualified. There’s a log in my eye. I lack the necessary information and the necessary skill. I am happy and content to be a doer of the law and to leave the judgment to a merciful God.”

The beautiful thing is that when we do this, when we choose to vacate the judgment seat, we’re set free from the entire sinkhole of judgment, of measuring, of comparing, of condemnation.

We can CHOOSE to relate to one another on a different plane, not because we can’t see that someone else has issues, or because we can’t see a better path that we ourselves choose to take, but because we love mercy, and we wish to give it and to receive it.

The Rarity of Judgment

It’s an interesting truth that God himself judges only rarely. A careful reading of the Old Testament shows that while God at all times SAW and even announced the wrongdoing of Israel, he waited to bring judgment, sometimes for hundreds of years.

“I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” he told Ezekiel. In our era, Peter tells us why Jesus has not yet returned:

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Our Father would rather release EVERYONE from judgment, save every one of their lives, than condemn a single person.

And he is perfect. He sees it all. He isn’t hanging his own sense of self-worth on comparing himself to his creation.

Be the same way, Jesus says. You can see, you can understand, you can discern. But you don’t have to judge.

So don’t.

Log Removal for Dummies

Of course, along with permission to quit judging, there’s a disturbing truth in Jesus’ words: we’ve got logs in our eyes.

Presumably these are affecting the way we see a lot of things, not just one another. Presumably our vision is universally skewed.

Is there any way to get the logs out?

(NOT so that we can enthusiastically go into the speck-removal business. I submit that’s the wrong motivation for trying to clean out our eyes.)

As it happens, I believe this is one reason Jesus came. To make blind eyes see, not only physically but also spiritually. To enlighten the eyes of our hearts, as Paul puts it in Ephesians 1:18.

Step 1: Stop comparing yourself to others. This is the quickest way to cloud your vision.
Step 2: Get honest with God about how much you can’t see.
Step 3: Ask him to reveal himself to your heart.

The more clearly we see him, the more clearly we see.

(This is Part 80 in a series on the Gospel of Matthew, which you can access here. Unless otherwise marked, quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)

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Water in the Wilderness …

You are a committed follower of Jesus, in this for the long haul … but spiritual life is not always simple, easy, or painless. Dry seasons, when the voice of God seems silent and our own hearts arid, can cause even the most faithful to wonder if something is drastically wrong … if God has forgotten us, or if we are cut off from him.

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