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Plank Eye

Matthew 7:5

 “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

For some time, the prevailing school of thought in the grace movement has been that no-one has the right to correct anyone else when they see then acting in an ungodly way. This verse has been exploited to mean what it does not mean in this way. I present to you that this verse actually encourages correction. Notice the language; “Hypocrites! First remove the plank from your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” 

  To rightly divide this word of truth, observe that Jesus called them Hypocrites. The term hypocrite literally refers to an actor. So Jesus was saying that whoever tries to correct without himself having that area of his life in line is just an actor pretending to have understanding, knowledge and victory over the area in question in order that they may receive praise and accolades from men. So the term hypocrite refers to anyone who, at any time pretends to be something or have accomplished something that they are not or have not. Further, the term hypocrite refers to those who are “answerers”. This means that a true hypocrite is not someone who is pretending, and everyone knows they are pretending but one who pretends in order to gain some advantage over another. 

    Next, the meat of this verse lies in the terms “first” and “then”. These words direct us to the verbs they support so that we might understand which actions to take and in what order we are to take them. In other words, we “first” remove the plank from our own eye. Let us discuss for a moment the word plank, and why a hypocrite in particular would have a “plank” in their eye, while their brother only has a speck. The understanding can, of course, be elicited from the meanings of the word’s “plank” and “speck”. To be brief, the root word for “plank” actually refers to the roof beam of a structure. The word for “speck” is derived from a root word that implies a small piece of dry wood that flies into the eye. 

    This is outstanding because the definition of plank, leads us to understand that the “issue” that resides in the eye of the “hypocrite” is larger because they are a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is largely born out of pride. Hypocrites generally do not wish to actually engage in self-examination much less change because to do so would somehow admit defeat or a “less than good enough” status. Therefore, the issue at hand that they are attempting to correct their brother for is enlarged by the pride in their own hearts. The pride becomes a beam, a support structure for their whole lives. They transition from exhibiting pride in certain situations to pride being part of “who they are.”  Thus, Jesus said so much when He called them Hypocrites, but He said more when He told them what to do. Encased in His instruction, Jesus revealed that there remained hope for them through the love of God. He essentially said, “You are not ready to tell your brother how to handle this because you haven’t handled it in your own life. However, I want you both free. In order to be made free, humble yourself enough to be honest with yourself and God and let Him teach you how to eradicate this issue entirely and then you will be the most qualified to help your brother with the same issue.”  

    Speaking of helping your brother, that is exactly what God wants. God wants those who have gone through issues in their lives and have come out victorious to be the mentors of those with the same issue. The reason for this is because people who need help with hurdles tend to only take advice from those who have experienced the same things. Furthermore, Jesus is very pointed here by utilizing the term “brother.” This is indicative of the fact that we should only correct the behavior of those inside the body of Christ. By process of elimination, we should not, therefore, attempt to correct the actions of an unbeliever whether we have victory or not. As the old saying goes, this is attempting to clean the fish before you catch them. 

    In conclusion, if you are aware of someone who is exhibiting behavior that you yourself have displayed and you are moved to assist them break away from it, beware that you walk in victory in that area before you attempt to help. 

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