Shylock: "I crave the law." Portia: "For as thou urgest justice, be assured Thou shalt have justice more than thou desirest." (From The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare) See Matthew 7:1-6
It seems that Jesus hates the sin of self-righteousness and hypocrisy more than anything else. His greatest anger was expressed to the self-righteous, hypocritical scribes and Pharisees. (E.g., See Matthew 23: 13-36 where He called them "blind guides, fools, whitewashed tombs, serpents, brood of vipers").
Jesus focuses on relationships and the quality of our relationships depend more on an inner life of love, humility and integrity than our outward appearance of success, position and power which the world applauds. Remember when we share our strengths we build walls but when we share our weaknesses we build bridges of relationship.
So Jesus is saying in this passage not to judge self-righteously,(with a plank in our eye), authoritatively (play God) with condemnation, without mercy, revengefully, or with finality (i.e., "I know that person can never change").
He tells us to first get the "plank" out of our own eye and then we are able to humbly help someone else get a "speck" out of their eye. There are many Scriptures that support Jesus’ emphasis to first judge ourselves by asking the Holy Spirit to show us the truth about ourselves — a prayer God will always answer. (Psalm 139:23-24; 1 Corinthians 11:28-31)
"Lord give me justice" is one prayer we should never pray. The world system, the devil, our sinful flesh and world religions all focus on justice, "my rights". Christianity teaches and demonstrates mercy and grace as seen in the gospel as Jesus Christ satisfies God’s holy justice by taking our penalty and punishment on Himself and giving us mercy and grace. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Yet after we have seen and repented of our sins we are then called to help others "get the speck out of their eye." We are called to discern but not to judge self-righteously. We are to "go to him" (versus talk about him behind his back) and "show him his fault privately" (Matthew 18:15-17) speaking the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) Truth without love is hard, cold, orthodoxy and love without truth is sentimentalism — emotions without truth.
In verse six we are also called to discern those people who profane holy things — the gospel, God’s Word and wisdom. This does not mean "sinners" in general for Jesus was a friend of sinners and went to them. But it means those who persist in rejecting God’s gospel and His truth. Jesus told the disciples to "shake the dust off your feet" with such people and move on. (Matthew 10:14; Also see where Paul said the same — Acts 13:46; 18:5,6; 28:24-28) So we are called to discern (not wrongly judge) such people and relate to them accordingly. Psalm 1:1
"The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. “Tis mightiest in the mightiest, it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown. His scepter shows the force of temporal power — the attribute to awe and majesty wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; but mercy is above this scepter’d sway — it is enthroned in the heart of kings. It is an attribute to God Himself; and earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Shylock, consider this- that in the course of justice none of us should see salvation. We do pray for mercy (for ourselves) and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy." (The Merchant of Venice)
Have you ever felt like Shylock and "craved the law" when someone wronged you? What have you learned about that attitude by being a Christian?
How can genuine desires and even needs turn into expectations that we demand from others?
Do you regularly ask God to examine you, to judge you per the Scriptures above? Share your thoughts and experience on this.
Do you "go to him" when you see a person with a "speck" in their eye and gently show them their fault?
Have you encountered people who profane the gospel and God’s truth? See Psalm 1:1 Discuss