January 23, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 6)

Submitted by Jeannie L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 6:41-42  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

  • Speck, plank

Jesus is so realistic, and so true to life, so realistic about mankind, and even putting some humor into his teachings.  It’s so true, that when I look at myself, I see specks of things that are wrong, and yet in other people, they are magnified to planks.  I am quick to notice other people’s faults and mistakes, and they become larger in my eyes. And yet when it comes to my own faults and mistakes, I minimize them, I excuse them away, thinking that because I meant well, and tried hard, that it’s somehow ok.  I think I am under special circumstances, so it’s ok that there’s just this little speck, but those people, what’s their story?  They have planks!  It’s ridiculous that I can do this, and yet it shows the truth of Jesus’ words in this passage.

As realistic as Jesus is, showing that he understands the plight of human sin, he doesn’t let me get away with that kind of judgmental critical spirit, and minimization of my own sin. He calls them hypocrites.  Hypocrisy is “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.”

Why is this so bad that Jesus calls them hypocrites?  Because having this attitude gives rise to all these ugly things that come out of my heart, the bad fruit that Jesus talks about in the upcoming passage.  Out of the hypocrisy of my heart comes snide remarks and thoughts about others, that I am better because of some little thing I did right, others are worse because of some tiny infraction that I’ve turned into something bigger.  It gives rise to putting others down, and raising myself up.  I am merciful towards myself and merciless towards others. I need to see myself clearly, before the word of God, and what comes out of me, is not so pretty, no matter how I try to pretty it up.

Lord, please forgive me my unforgiving and critical and merciless spirit. Please forgive me my insecure and proud heart, which seeks to cover over the planks in my life, and magnify the specks in others’ lives. Thank you for your mercy on me, that you view me with merciful eyes, and that your blood covers over the many faults I have, and that your lights shines on my dark heart to help me and others to remove the planks in my life.  Thank you for working on me and purifying me.

Luke 6:43-44 “43No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

·       Fruit

What I learn from this passage is that God is not fooled, nor is man.  Whatever is inside of me, will come out.  I cannot hide it.  This is a relief as well as a warning.  A relief because I don’t have to pretend, I don’t have to be a hypocrite, and a liar.  I can, as 1 John 1 urges, come into the light and confess my sins and what’s inside of me, knowing that in the end, who I am will surely be shown and known and exposed, and so I can be freed by confessing the truth of who I am now.  And experience forgiveness and purification and pruning and genuine fellowship with God and others.  I no longer have to sneak around, trying to cover up my sins and the bad fruit in my life.

And yet it’s a severe warning as well, how will I build my life and character and heart up, knowing that what’s inside will be revealed.  I want to be one who bears good fruit, who wants to bear bad fruit.  And yet, the work it takes to yield good fruit is the hard work of cultivating proper soil of my heart, to dig up the rocks, the shallowness of my thought-life and values.  To get rid of the thorns that choke out fruitfulness in my life, the thorns which are the worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth.  Doing all that takes work, takes a daily bringing myself before the mirror of God’s word to expose those worldly values, to confess them, to repent about them, and to instill in myself a proper worldview and proper godly biblical values, to make them more central in my life.  That takes time, each day. It takes thinking. It takes the emotional energy of confessing and repenting.

Lord, I want good fruit, but I don’t enjoy the hard work that it takes to bring it forth.  I pray that you would help me to do the hard work that it takes to cultivate my heart and dig down deeper so that I would be one who bears good fruit for your kingdom.  Thank you for dealing with me, for taking the pains, through your word, through my leaders, through life circumstances, to help me to dig those rocks and thorns out of my life, so that I can be sanctified for your use.  Thank you for taking a bad fruit and turning it into something good.

Submitted by Peter C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

When I think about what Jesus taught in Luke 6:37, it seems at first something that anyone would readily agree to. In a world of political correctness, where the worst evil that anyone could do is to judge or condemn someone, it doesn’t seem like a very radical thing to say, “do not judge” or “do not condemn.”  But as I think about it more, there is a very real difference between what Jesus taught and what people today might think. From a purely human perspective, the reason that I should not judge someone is that I am no better than that person. While this is true, the worldly perspective merely ends there. That’s it – very dogmatic. I am no better than the person next to me, so I should not dare judge that person, no matter what. The only “explanations” I have personally received merely ended up in a kind of browbeating and intimidation: “so are you saying that you ARE better than other people?” –  “well, no.”   But really it does very little to further the discussion, and it’s often very frustrating to talk to people who have fully bought into this kind of thinking.

So as a Christian how am I supposed to think about Jesus’ command? As I think about what happens when I judge someone, a few thoughts come to mind. First, it is refreshingly true to life to link judgment and condemnation. From a purely semantic point of view, judgment and condemnation ought to be independent from one another. Technically it should be possible to judge someone without condemning them. However, most of the time I find that I end up condemning people as I judge them, placing them in a prison of sorts – in my mind. And as my prisoners I end up categorizing them as a little bit less than human. There is no reprieve from that prison, and justice is more about revenge or fantasies of revenge than it is about fairness and discernment. I have held grudges, found the very sight of certain people excruciating, did not give them enough credit, trivialized them, took them for granted, had spiteful thoughts, spoke badly of them and harshly to them.  Restoration is nearly impossible, and there is only a sense of hostility and enmity that results. This hellish picture makes me realize what kind of wicked person it makes me for being the caretaker of such a prison. So just from that sense I realize that Jesus’ command here elevates me. Following Jesus’ command that I do not behave this way prevents me from becoming a bigger monster.

Examining my own life further, I realize that this kind of judgmental spirit arises from a severe lack of self-awareness. I find that I often overestimate myself and think more highly of my own ability to judge than I really ought. But the truth that has been revealed to me over the years is that, apart from scripture, I am in fact not a trustworthy judge on my own. I often need help getting my OWN self pointed in the right direction, let alone be able to do that for others. I am far from consistent or fair. But I would never be faced with that truth if I only engaged in armchair Christianity. And this is the danger – that I would go on thinking that since I AGREE with all that Jesus has to say, I am actually LIVING IT OUT. Many times it’s in my attempt to live out Jesus’ commands that I realize that I am a very untrustworthy, and often outright wicked person.

How does my ignorance of myself play out? Perhaps that is why Jesus talks about the speck and the plank in Luke 6:41. This June my wife Hope and I will have been married 19 years. One of the biggest adjustments I had to make is in this area. I could almost guarantee an argument if I was trying to point out some sawdust in her eye when there was a giant 2×4 in my own eye. And through the first few years of marriage there was a crash course on the many areas where I was totally blind to myself. That’s the thing about 2×4’s – when they are lodged in my eye, I cannot see:  selfishness, pettiness, greed, anger – all different kinds of planks. But when those planks are removed, I am able to see. And that is the beauty of this command. When I acknowledge that there is a plank in my own eye, Jesus provides a way for that plank to be removed. And when it is removed, I am suddenly able to see clearly. I am able to discern right from wrong, truth from fiction.

This is probably the biggest way in which the world’s view of judgment/discernment is different from the biblical view. When people say, “don’t judge me,” they mean that wholesale. There is no nuance. Just don’t do it. Period. But Jesus says something a lot more nuanced.  He means that I ought to do it correctly. Judging with intent to condemn is not correct. But whenever possible, I AM to discern the difference between right and wrong for the edification of the other. I SHOULD discern that difference and become better at it in an increasingly nuanced world.

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