So often we are able to see the slightest of sins in another person, when there are glaring sins in our own lives that we are blind to. A person sleeps in on Sunday and doesn’t attend church and so we condemn them in our hearts, meanwhile, those very same hearts are asleep to God’s mercy and grace and are far from true worship. We condemn people silently in our hearts for smoking or drinking, all the while we are gluttons. We see their sins and are oblivious to our own.
Like the parable of the lost son. The brother saw that his younger sibling ran off with dad’s money and squandered it all. How sinful! How awful! Yet he was completely blind to his own anger and hatred. Jonah saw the Ninevites as ruthless, evil, wicked sinners in need of judgment. Yet when they repented he was angry and sat in judgment of God for saving them. He saw their evil deeds but was blind to his own evil heart.
The irony is that we believe that the tiny speck of sin in someone else’s eye is a beam, while the beam in our eye is just a speck. Jesus told us to get our house in order before we try to get someone else’s house in order. A good rule of thumb is that the moment you see someone else’s faults, stop looking at them and turn your eyes to your own life and heart.
Let me give you a personal example. While at the conference once, there was a young man in our hotel who needed a ride to the Yum Center. We let him tag along for the ride. The entire ride he talked about himself. He talked as if he had all the answers. As I am driving, I am getting irritated just from listening to him. In my mind, I am listing all his faults or pride and arrogance and presumption and the list was getting longer by the second. And as I am thinking this, I started to pride myself on not being prideful, and knowing that I don’t have all the answers, and not being presumptuous. I was guilty of the exact same things I was condemning this young man for. But my pride and presumption wasn’t nearly as glaring to me as his were.
It is so easy to allow the actions of others to cloud the thoughts of our own hearts and blind us to our own actions. They don’t clean the way we want. They don’t school the way we think they should. They don’t preach the way we feel they should. They don’t stand up for the things we stand up for. And soon we have a heart that condemns and a heart that is critical. And we forget that we were dead in our trespasses and children of wrath, but God, in his love for us, in his mercy made us alive together with Christ. Our hearts and mouths are filled with harsh, critical, judgmental words while at the same time receiving the grace, love, and mercy from God for our own sins. O! What hypocrisy we commit! So Jesus gave a warning against hypocrisy.
(Excerpt adapted from my sermon on Matthew 7:1-6).