Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 8 2013 - Matthew 6:25-7:14 – The Speck and the Plank

One of my jobs on a Saturday, particularly during the winter months, is to saw wood for our wood-burning stove. After an hour or two working over the bench-saw my glasses are speckled with sawdust and I cannot see clearly until I have given them a good clean.

Jesus the carpenter paints an amusing and striking picture of a person with a plank of wood in their eye offering to remove the speck of sawdust from someone else's eye. Amusing, that is, until we realise that this is a portrait of how we behave all too often. We have an inbuilt tendency to ignore, excuse or even justify our own faults while being wonderfully sensitive to the smallest faults in others. We may even see this as a virtue; we have a gift for putting others right. Even as I write, I am acutely conscious of many examples of such a fault – in other people!

Such conduct is a reflection of our own insecurity. Our failure to appreciate that we are loved and accepted by our heavenly Father who delights to lavish his good gifts on us even though he is far from blind to our faults.

Nor are we to be blind to our own faults. Jesus calls us to watch over our own hearts and over our own conduct. He calls us to be critical of ourselves and forgiving towards others. He calls us to treat others in the way we would wish to be treated by them (Matthew 7:12). Just as we long for others to overlook our faults and forgive our mistakes so we must treat them in the same way. More than that, Jesus calls us to treat others with the same kindness, grace, forgiveness and love that God has shown towards us. He has not treated us as our sins deserve. He is slow to judge and full of mercy. What would happen if God were to treat us in the way we treat others?

It is far from easy to live like this. And Jesus knows it for he tells us that the path of discipleship – the path that leads to life – is hard. We cannot manage to walk it on our own or by our own resources. We can only live like this as Christ lives in us and the grace of God flows through us. That’s why he tells us:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8).

Luke adds a specific application of this promise by telling us that God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11:13). We need continually to seek God’s help to enable us to live the life of the kingdom. It is the Spirit of the risen Jesus, living in us who makes us like Christ and enables us to live the life of secure and blessed children of God that Jesus calls us to live in his Sermon on the Mount.

Lord, help me to keep a watch upon my heart today. Keep me from mean and ungenerous thoughts about others. Help me keep a watch on my tongue that I may not express quick judgments about others but that all my words may be seasoned with grace. Continually remind me of the wonder of your grace by which I am forgiven, restored, loved and provided for rather than being brought to judgment. Give me a greater measure of your Spirit that I may be more like Jesus. Help me to bring something of the blessings of your kingdom to those around me today.

Peter Misselbrook