Grace For The Journey
We are studying through the Gospel of Luke, and we are a little better than half-way through a sermon by our Lord in Luke 6 many refer to as the “Sermon on the Plain.” It is very similar to the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew’s Gospel, but shorter and spoken at a different location. Last time we began a study of verses 37-42, and we looked at verses 37 and 38. We will review those two verses today and then study through verse 42.
Consider this real-live story: He was a man who was respected by nearly everyone in the community. He was married and had many gifts and talents. He was generally kind and giving, but he was also a man of great power. And being a man of great power and influence, he was accustomed to getting what he wanted, and he usually did. When he saw the young lady, he was so taken by her physical beauty that, despite his religious upbringing and his clear moral sense of right and wrong, he soon entered into an adulterous relationship with this woman, she herself being married to another man who had been out of town for quite some time.
As he had been with the woman just one evening, the man no doubt thought that he had gotten away with what he had done. The two returned to their homes and lives as though nothing had happened and no one had seen. Some weeks later the woman discovered she was pregnant, carrying the child of the man with whom she had had the affair. When she sent word to the man, he devised a series of plans he hoped would protect both of them and keep their actions a secret. His use of power and influence led ultimately to a scenario that ended in the death of the woman’s husband. The man had gotten away with it. It seemed no one knew about the evening of adultery and that he could carry on with his life as before.
One evening another man who lived near this man who had committed adultery came over to his house. As the two talked over different matters of business, this “neighbor” shared with the man a story about an injustice that had occurred recently. He said, “In this particular city there are these two men who live very close to each other, one of them very wealthy and prosperous—hundreds of flocks of sheep and herds of cattle—and the other man very poor. The poor man really had nothing at all. I mean, he had one little lamb, but even it was more like a child to the man than anything else.” And the man continued, “Do you know, one day someone came and visited the rich man and the rich man, rather than taking from among his hundreds of sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for his visiting friend, went to his poor neighbor and took from that poor man his little lamb who was like a child to him, he took that lamb and killed it and served it to his friend. Can you believe that?!”
After hearing this, the man was incensed and replied, “Such injustice! I’ll tell you what they ought to do to that fellow that killed the poor man’s lamb, they ought to kill him!” And after a moment of silence, the neighbor – whose name was Nathan – said to the adulterous man, whose name was King David, “You are the man. You are the man in this story of mine. You are the rich man in my story who took from the poor man and even had the poor man killed. You are the man.”
The story in 2 Samuel 11-12 brings to color and high definition what Jesus teaches here in Luke 6. God sends Nathan the Prophet to King David to point out his hypocrisy. Jesus says concerning our relations with others, “Judge not, condemn not,” and what you see in David is a man who judged another and condemned another. And in judging and condemning others David shows he is a hypocrite because, in his zeal to remove the speck of dirt from the eye of another, he fails to see the log in his own eye.
If you remember nothing else from what we study today, remember that . . .
We are in no position to criticize others
As long as we fail to see that we have
Something in our own eyes.
We have our own failures.
We have our own flaws.
We are in need of God’s grace,
Forgiveness, and the mercy of
Redemption as much as
The other guy – if not, more.
Jesus teaches us how to live here in these six verses, how to live among others. He is talking to His followers here, His disciples, true followers of Jesus Christ. He is also talking to us this morning. He teaches first that . . .
I. We Must Love Like Our Lord – Verses 37-38.
This is the first main point in the sermon this morning. We studied these two verses last time. Jesus says in verse 37, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged.” The verbal construction in the original is more like, “Stop judging,” which indicates that Jesus’ followers were already engaged in judgmental behavior and that Jesus is telling them to stop judging others.
Remember that Jesus does not have in mind here the judging that we do in order to discern right from wrong or truth from error. He is not talking about the place of law courts and classrooms as though no one could ever say anything because, “the Bible says, ‘Judge not.’” He is talking about our not having a critical spirit, a judgmental nature, or condemning nature that causes us to look down upon others.
Last time I used the word “censorious” to describe this kind of behavior. It is a good word. It is a word that means “to be contemptuous and hypercritical” in relation to others. We are to not be judgmental, we are not to condemn, we are to have a giving nature toward others and we’re to have a forgiving nature toward others. Jesus teaches that if we are truly Christians that we will forgive others. He says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
So, we asked, “How do you stay in a marriage?” The answer is “forgive.” How do you stay in a job where you have been wronged? Forgive. How do you stay in a church where you have been hurt? Forgive.
Secondly . . .
II. We Must “Look” Like Our Lord – Verses 39, 41-42.
What I mean here is how we look with our eyes. Our Lord has perfect vision and He looks upon others without being critical or judgmental. We are to look upon others as our Lord looks upon others. We are not to look upon others with a critical, judgmental eye, but we are to look upon others lovingly. To do so means we have to acknowledge our own faults and failures.
The Bible says in verse 39, “And He spoke a parable to them: ‘Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?’” Jesus teaches here the danger of our being blind to our own faults while at the same time judging others. He says it is like a blind person leading a blind person. If a blind person leads a blind person, they both will fall into the ditch. Ancient Palestine had these ditches everywhere. A person did not have to walk far before they found themself in one of those ditches.
Jesus says if a blind person leads a blind person not only will he be unable to keep the other from falling into a ditch, but he himself will fall into the ditch, too. Why? Because he cannot see any better than the other guy. Jesus is saying, “When you and I attempt to point out a fault in another person we fail to remember that we too, have faults.” We are in no position to help another person so long we fail to see that we are also imperfect. It is like wanting to help another with their “special problem” and the whole time we are talking to them we fail to see our own “special problem” or “problems” and we both end up worse than before.
This is the context for understanding this imagery of the speck in the eye and the plank in the eye. Verses 41-24 say, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
Now that is pretty funny, isn’t it? This shows us that Jesus had a sense of humor. We never read of His laughing anywhere, but that certainly does not mean that he never did. I read this and I see humor in it. I mean, it is absurd, isn’t it? You picture this guy with a long, piece of wood, like a 2-by-4 sticking out of his eye. And he has this beam sticking straight out of his eye and he comes up to another guy and he says, “Hey, you have got something there in your eye, a little tiny, speck there.” Meanwhile, the other guy is like, ‘You mind backing up a bit, buddy?!’ What do you mean?” He is ducking while he’s talking. “Watch out with that beam in your eye! You are going to knock me over.” Then the other guy asks, “What piece of wood? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t see anything.” Then the other responds, “You do not see anything?! You do not see this huge beam sticking 8 feet out of your eye?!” His friend replies, ““No – but I can see that little speck of dust in your eye! Here, let me help you remove it.” That is about how silly we look when we go around and try to straighten everyone else out, totally blind to what needs straightening out in our own lives. That is about how silly we sound when we talk so critically of others as though we ourselves were perfect. Most of the behavior Jesus condemns here has to do with what we say, with the words that come out of our mouths, words that are used to condemn others, words that criticize others, words that express a judgmental nature over others.
Jesus introduces much of what He teaches here in the context of loving our enemies. Let me ask you a question I ask of myself. Get an enemy in your mind. I am sure you have one or two – a boss, a coworker, a church member, a former church member, an ex-friend, or even a family member. You know there are a few out there who do not like you. Get that person or persons in your mind. Now, based on your behavior last week, based on what you said about that person last week, how did you do with respect to avoiding having a judgmental nature, speaking critically of that person, or expressing a judgmental nature over that person?
One of my favorite Proverbs is Proverbs 10:19: “Where words are many, sin is not absent.” We must be careful what we say. We must think about the speck of dust in our enemy’s eye and the plank of wood in our own eye every time we speak. Because if we do not, we are engaging in un-Christian behavior. Have you heard the poem about all that we said in a single day being recorded and then read back to us?
If all that we say in a single day with never a word left out,
were printed each night in clear black and white
it would make strange reading no doubt.
And then just suppose, ‘ere our eyes should close
we should read the whole record through;
Then wouldn’t we sigh, and wouldn’t we try,
a great deal less talking to do?
And I more than half think, that many a kink
would be smoother in life’s tangled web,
If half what we say in a single day,
were to be left forever unsaid.
Think of that this week when you find yourself tempted to open your mouth and say something negative and critical of someone else. Be quick to see the beam, the plank, in your own eye, and you will be too busy to worry about the speck of dust in your neighbor’s eye.
The more I reflect on this teaching the more I think that if we take the time necessary to remove the plank from our own eye that we will never get around to removing the speck of dust from our neighbor’s eye. If each of us simply focuses on the beam sticking out of our own eye, we will never have to worry about the speck in the other’s eye. I mean, if you think about it, what I see in my neighbor’s eye is a speck and what I do not see in my eye is a beam. What he sees in my eye is a speck and what he doesn’t see in his eye is a beam. What we each need to do is take care of the beam in our own eye and if we will do that, there will be no speck to remove from the other’s eye.
In verse 41, practically speaking, Jesus tells us how it works out, “And why do you look at the speck in your spouse’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your wife or husband, ‘Let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? You hypocritical husband, you hypocritical wife! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your spouse’s eye. And if both husband and wife will take the time to remove the planks from their own eyes then they will live as Jesus would have them live.”
This means I come to my wife, and we are having a discussion about something – we do not fight of course, we have discussions – and we are butting heads. It is likely because, in my effort to point out what I perceive to be the flaws in my wife, I am ignoring my own flaws. We learned last week that a spirit of criticism or judgmental nature is the result of our maximizing the offense in others while at the same time minimizing the offense in ourselves. I come to my wife and I acknowledge that I am to blame for at least part of the problem. Even if I feel she is 90% to blame and I am only 10% to blame then I will work on the 10% without trying to correct her 90%. If we do that, focus on our own faults, then the result is a healthy relationship, whether it is a husband and wife, employee and supervisor, church member and church member, and so forth.
We Must Love Like Our Lord . . . We Must “Look” Like Our Lord . . . Thirdly . . .
III. We Must Live Like Our Lord – Verse 40.
Jesus says in verse 40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” We are the “disciple” in verse 40 and Jesus is the “teacher.” Everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. We must live like our Lord. I am encouraged that the phrase “perfectly trained” there has to do with the final state of a long process. It was a word in the original Greek used to describe the process of mending fishing nets. It takes a long time to mend torn and broken nets.
God in His grace takes us torn and broken creatures and He mends us, and this through the strength and power of the Gospel. God takes whatever time is necessary to mend us and train us to be just like Jesus. We must live like our Lord. That the goal! We should want to become like our Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ. If so . . . we will love like Him, “look” like Him, and live like Him.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”