“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, and perceiveth not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Luke 6:41)
Or as my husband likes to paraphrase it, why do we always see the splinter in our brother’s eye, but somehow never seem to be able to make out the telephone pole in our own? The truth is, many, if not most, of us are guilty of criticizing others, while we ourselves may be guilty of far worse, in God’s estimation. The fact that we are at fault may not excuse others’ guilt, but neither do their imperfections lessen our own culpability. God purposely uses this over-the-top metaphoric speech to show us just how blind we can be to our own vulnerabilities.
What is it that makes this beam—this telephone pole, if you will—right before our very eyes, so invisible to us? If I had to give a one-word answer, it would be “prejudice.” Not in the sense that society has corrupted the word to identify anyone who does not go along with its latest cultural mores; but rather, a preconceived opinion that completely disregards any fact that might contradict it. This is why one refuses to be corrected by anyone outside his or her own comfortable alliances (e.g., denomination, church, fellowship, peer group, etc.). It is also why we may be skeptical of anyone below, or above, our own education level. And why we tend to list sins by priority and feel more comfortable in a group whose list resembles our own.
This is important. Not just to our relationship with one another, but God, as well. As long as we are minimizing our sins by magnifying the shortcomings of others, we run the risk of harboring chronic sins that contaminate our fellowship with Him (Psl.66:18). If we fail to put this truth in the right perspective, we are always going to assume the gigantic beam is in the other fellow’s eye, while that insignificant little mote is in our own, instead of the other way around. In which case, we never will see straight!