A Self-righteous Spirit

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?” – Matthew 7:4

But is it not a kindness to a friend to take the mote out of his eye? If we met a neighbor with a cinder in his eye, would it not be a brotherly thing to stop and take it out for him? Then why is it not just as true a kindness to want to cure; another’s built, even though we have the same fault ourselves? If we did it in the right spirit it would be. We are bound to seek the welfare of our friends in every possible way, and therefore, if we discover in them things that mar their beauty, we should seek the removal of those things.

But the trouble is we are not apt to look at our neighbor’s faults in this loving and sympathetic way. To begin with, we do not know, or at least we do not confess, that we ourselves have beams in our own eyes; we are not even aware that there are motes in our own eyes. It is the self-righteous spirit that our Lord is here condemning. A man holds up his hands in horror at the speck he has found in his neighbor’s character; and his neighbor, looking up, sees in him an immensely magnified copy of the speck. Will the neighbor be greatly benefited by the rebuke?

Suppose a bad-tempered man lectures us on the sin of giving way to temper, or a dishonest man on some apparent lack of honesty, or a liar on the wickedness of falsehood, or a bad-mannered man on some discourtesy of ours, or a hypocrite on insincerity, what good will such lectures do, even admitting that we are conscious of the faults? We are only irritated by the unfitness of such rebukes from those in whom the faults are ten times greater than in us. We wonder how people can have the face to talk about motes in our eyes when huge beams project from their own eyes. Truly this is not the way to tell others of their faults.

By Doctor James R. Miller

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