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Log in Your Eye
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Who is the greatest sinner you can think of? If you’re like me, names like Stalin, Hitler, or Saddam Hussein come to mind. Responsible for the torture and death of thousands, who could fall further into wickedness than these men? Recently, as I was listening to a speaker sharing some thoughts* on mercy, a new perspective on the question – a much more personal one – was given. He started with a common scripture:

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7: 3–5).

I was ready for the usual comments about dealing with sin in our lives before addressing sin in others’ lives, but the pastor caught my attention with a much bolder statement. We cannot truly judge or address the sin in other’s lives, he put forth, until we see ourselves as the greatest sinners we know.

Worse Sinners Than Myself

Wait, wait, wait, I thought! I’m a sinner, yes. I make mistakes – I find it all too easy to fall into pride and selfishness. My heart is certainly not free from sin! But the greatest sinner I know? Of course not. I’ve never murdered, committed adultery, or been filled with blind rage and prejudice that led me to horrible deeds – “logs” like that certainly aren’t in my eyes. I can certainly think of many worse sinners than myself!

But then he went on, quoting Christian author William Law. For, “We may justly condemn ourselves as the greatest sinners we know, because we know more of the folly of our own hearts than we do of other people’s.”

Suddenly it came together in my mind. I do know my own. Apart from Jesus, it is selfish, proud, and hard. The “log” in my eye may not be a hidden activity or a horrible act. It may be pride. It is pride that looks to others and compares myself. I do not know their hearts. Until I can recognize that I am the worst sinner that I know, because only I know the blackness of my own heart without Him, than I am not ready to address others.

It is only through humility and recognition of our own sinfulness that we can ever work out conflicts, address concerns to others, and deal with relational problems. Whether a conflict with a family member, a concern about a friend’s behavior, or an issue with a fellow believer, when we recognize ourselves as the “great sinners we know”, saved only by God’s great mercy and grace, and no holier (in and of ourselves) than anyone else, than we are free to move forward in Him and resolve these issues.

*Chesemore, Brian. “The Different That Mercy Makes”. July 2006. Available for download from http://www.covlife.org.

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By Danae Rittenour. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the English Standard Version ®. 

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