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Some people are good at pointing out the faults of others. Christians may appeal to Scripture as a ground for doing this. But often such people have very little perception of their own faults and may resent anyone who points them out. What does the Lord have to say about this? We turn now to consider Luke 6:37-42 Getting a clear view.
1. Sinful judging
Jesus continues to expound the kind of open-hearted, merciful lifestyle that should characterise disciples: ‘Do not judge and you will not be judged’ (v37). How is this consistent with passages that expect Christians to exercise their critical faculties? In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul commands the church to deal with immorality and asks, ‘Are you not to judge those inside?’ (v12). Note also Galatians 1:6-9. These are cases of the church (especially leaders) exercising biblical discernment, together with corrective discipline. In Luke 6:37ff Jesus deals with interpersonal relationships and forbids unjust or hypocritical judging of others that involves a critical and self-righteous spirit – a fault-finding attitude. Hence he says, ‘Do not condemn and you will not be condemned’ – we may be condemned by men, but we will ultimately be condemned by God. By not judging or condemning we show that we have been changed by grace. ‘Give…’ (v38) requires open-hearted generosity that results in abundant blessing – ‘A good measure, pressed down’. The principle of God’s dealings with us is ‘with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’
2. Wise leadership
The ‘parable’ of v39 about a blind man leading a blind man is puzzling. The issue is leadership in the spiritual realm. It is folly for someone lacking spiritual understanding and vision to lead others. This is especially true of any with responsibilities of leadership in Christ’s church. So that both do not ‘fall into a pit’ spiritual blindness must be addressed so that the leader will be like his teacher, Christ. He is to be ‘fully trained’ (v40) – like the nets of Mark 1:19, ready for fruitful work. First, sin must be dealt with, removing the cause of spiritual blindness. That fits the context of what follows in v41-42. When forgiveness is received, the barrier of sin is taken away. Then we are ‘fully trained’, ready for service, like our teacher. That is to be the desire of every disciple.
3. Blatant hypocrisy
In v41-42 Jesus continues his instruction concerning clear sightedness regarding our own sins and failures. There is a place in the church for dealing with the faults of members (see Galatians 6:1 ‘restore him gently’), but the danger of hypocrisy is real. Jesus uses hyperbole – exaggerated, not literal, language to drive home his point. The language of ‘speck…plank’ (v41) is vivid, with an element of humour to teach a serious lesson. A believer offers ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ (v42), possibly well-motivated, but ‘you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye’ – ignoring one’s own greater sins and failings. Our concern should first be our own sins, lest we be hypocrites. We seek God’s grace in forgiveness, then in love ‘you will see clearly’. It is a call to Spirit-led self-assessment and repentance.