Advent 38-50: Plank & Speck (Judging)

Advent Day 38 of 50: Not Judging

Our study of the Essential Teachings of Jesus continues with his exhortation on judgement (Matthew 7:1-5).

“Judge not, that you be not judged,” says Jesus. “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

As we have seen throughout his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pushes us to personal responsibility. In other words, our actions today, in the here and now, are the measure by which our Faith is defined. Judgement is fair if you are willing to be judged by the same standard. By putting it in these terms Jesus is giving us an opportunity to evaluate our lives, our work, and our actions.

In the process of self-evaluation, you are invited to look honestly at your motives and intention. If done sincerely you understand that you are part of the human condition, that is, you have faults, you are not perfect, and hence, you sin.

The word sin, in both Hebrew and Greek, is an archery term which means, “Missing the mark.” You aim for the bull’s eye, the mark – perfection. Every time you miss the mark you are sinning. Sin in itself is merely a part of the human condition. Only Jesus is sinless and therefore, only Jesus has the right to judge others because if he is judged by the same standard by which he judges, he is perfect.

And so, Jesus continues, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Not judging others is one of the cornerstones of Jesus’ teachings. He brings this exaggerated example to drive the point home. With a plank in your own eye, it is impossible to see the speck in another’s eye.  With this example he challenges us to look for, find and remove the planks – the imperfections – from our own life before looking or commenting on another’s life.

We pray today from the 22nd hour of St. Nersess Shnorhali’s Confession of Faith, Righteous Judge, when You come into the glory of the Father to judge the living and the dead, enter not into judgment with Your servant, but deliver me from the eternal fire, and make me worthy to hear the blissful call of the just to Your heavenly Kingdom. Amen.

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