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Walking the Plank

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.
But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1 NIV

Series: “Cleaning House”

Without a doubt, dusting is the household chore I most detest. It is a never ending battle. A layer of fuzzy particles over every surface. I admit it is quite satisfying when I grab a cleaning cloth and swipe through all the grime—but it never lasts! Dust comes back as quickly as it is wiped away. No wonder it is the last chore I ever choose to do.

Just as lint accumulates on our furniture, we also have specks that accumulate in our spiritual life. Many types of “dirt” pile up around us (or in us), but most often, we notice the dirt, grime, or dust in other people faster than we do our own. When we see a trace of negative behavior or bad habit in others, we sometimes choose to jump in and correct them, all the while remaining blind to our own faults. This is a delicate subject for most of us, because after all, who wants to be judged?

What does Scripture really say about this? Are we, as Christ’s followers, called to do this? There are a few scriptures offering instruction as to the honorable approach to what could be tough conversations. Let’s look at a few, beginning with the words of Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount: 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV)

Let’s also read from Paul’s letter to Corinth in 2 Corinthians 10:7:

You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. (NIV)

Think back for just a moment—to the time you received Jesus as your Savior. (Whether years ago or today!) On that day, God forgave your transgressions and made you a new creation in Christ. This is an amazing gift, given to you, because you realized your need for a Savior. Your humility and desire to be more like Jesus, who died and rose again for your sins, allowed you to be washed clean from head to toe. What an incredible, generous God we serve. He did this for you and He did this for others. 

Jesus warns against judging inappropriately, harshly, or from a place of pridefulness. If I go to my sister-in-Christ and confront her sin, without first looking at my life, I fall into a judgmental space of thinking I am better than her. If we truly hope to help and restore someone else, we must honestly own our own sins and confess them. If I judge her with sharpness, I too shall feel that sting. But if I examine myself, speak from a place of humility and love, God can use those words to help both of us overcome our trespasses. Our motive must be restoration, not condemnation. God has not given us the authority to draw a conclusion about another person’s eternal path. That is in HIS hands alone.

That speck of dust we are trying to remove out of the other person’s eye will be harder to see once we identify the plank in our own. That plank may hold secrets from the world, but they cannot hide from God. Only He stands in judgment and is our gracious redeemer. Let us be slow to speak and profoundly aware of our motives in matters of accusation. Remember, we must walk the plank, to prevent us from diving into the deep waters of inappropriate judgment. 

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: Galatians 6:1; Matthew 7:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, 10:7; Proverbs 24:23; Isaiah 16:5; John 7:24; Romans 10:9-10; John 3:3


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