Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Sharp eyes, dulled awareness

Humans, Dale Allison observes, have an “inbred proclivity to mix ignorance of themselves with arrogance toward others.” Jesus spoke of this with the image of the “speck” and the “log.” Jesus intends to be funny and serious, to jab at the ribs and wound the heart all at the same time. And what Jesus sees in the hilarious but titanic comparison of specks and logs is that we have sharp eyes for the sins of others but dulled awareness of our own.
Jesus’ solution, though, is not what some think: he does not say, “Since you’re a hypocrite, shut up!” Instead, he says, “Since you’re a hypocrite, clean up your act, then you’ll be able to help others.” In fact, there is a play on words here in Greek: in 7:3 the hypocrite “sees” (blepeis) but in 7:5 the “repented and restored-to-vision follower of Jesus” can now “clearly see” (diablepseis).
Only when the follower of Jesus can “clearly see” is she or he to be involved in the moral improvement of others. This should slow us down, but it should not stop us from the needed and useful task of being a community of moral correction.
A well-known politician, whose initials are Teddy Kennedy, was caught in this very thing recently: he had railed on one person, whose initials are Samuel Alito, only for others to discover that the reason for his railing was also found in his own life. What he will have to do, if he cares to follow Jesus, is purge that sin from his own life before he can help others purge the same sin from their lives.

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Jim Martin

posted January 24, 2006 at 7:02 am

Very good post, Scot. It seems to me that many of us believe we are not being “judgemental” if we will just remain morally neutral. Basically, this thinking seeems to suggest that it is more Christian to disengage from any sort of moral discernment regarding someone else’s behavior.
I agree with what you are saying re this text. The emphasis is on cleaning up your own life and then helping someone else.
Sadly, such bad thinking regarding this text has not served the Christian community well and has only strengthened the sense of individualism which is so common today.

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Duane Young

posted January 24, 2006 at 7:35 am

I trust that “clean up your act [first]” does not mean straighten out first, but see yourself rightly, i.e., make a right judgment about yourself amd then you can help. When an alcoholic asks for my help I send him/her on to an alcoholic in recovery. I am of little use; they can be of great value. They have first taken the log out of their own eye by the open and public acknowledgement, “I am an alcoholic.” Now both can “see clearly.” Truth [awareness] attends the relationship. One Cracked Eikon can help another, but not if he/she pretends he/she is not cracked, eh? Thus is my experience.

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Ted Gossard

posted January 24, 2006 at 8:15 am

Scot, We seem naturally to drift into judging others, and often right in reference to what we know of ourselves as well (that can blind us to their real problem). But we’re not fit to help them then. Only as we know “embracing grace” in our own lives can we do so, for sure.

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