When we are focused on the shortcomings of others, we are blinded to our own faults. We become like the servant who was forgiven a great debt yet failed to extend the same mercy to a lesser debtor (Matthew 18:21-35). Failing to see our sins impedes our ability to enjoy fellowship with Christ and to cooperate with His work of sanctification. Our blindness also precludes us from being able to help another believer along the path of righteousness. The blind cannot lead the blind. Read more: http://www.compellingtruth.org/do-not-judge.html#ixzz2PmhDtK6J
This is an analogy. It means to look at yourself before you accuse others. As in Jim and Tammy Bakker, Jerry Falwell, Ted Haggard, Eddie long. There are many other pertinent analogies that are NOT religious based that mean the same thing: 'You can't see the forest because the trees are in the way'; 'People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.' These all share the same concept. That is to look at the whole picture before you assume that you know what is going on. Of course, you will probably get other 'religious' interpretations which will vilify my remarks, but they are all just as accurate and appropriate.
This is an intentional exaggeration for the purpose of emphasis. With hyperbole, Jesus created mental pictures that were hard to forget. Someone who is prone to be critical offers to extract a mere straw from his brother’s “eye.” The critic would be claiming that his brother could not see matters clearly enough so as to render acceptable judgments. But the critic’s own ability to judge is impaired by a “rafter”—a log or beam that might be used to support a roof. What an unforgettable way to stress how foolish it is to criticize the minor faults of others when we may have major faults of our own!
11 months ago
Last edited at 9:01AM on 4/7/2013
Before explaining what it means, let me comment that this was a common Hebrew idiom at the time. Jesus didn't invent it, it was something people were used to say at the time. It appears twice in the Talmud and Mishna (Baba Batra 15b; Mishna Arachin 3: 16b) in addition to the NT reference (Matthew 7:3-5). The reason I'm bringing this up is that it is impossible to understand what Jesus meant without considering the cultural background as context. That is, to understand Jesus one needs to be familiar with Jewish thought of his time, and specifically with Mishna'ic and Talmudic literature. To understand what it means, it is important to realize it is the second part of a common idiom. As it was a common idiom, Jesus saw no need to tell both part, it suffices to just tell the ending. The Mishna tell of a debate about criticism between the rabbis. The position that Rabbi Tarfon takes is that he was unsure that people can still take criticism, and he tells the story of two men talking. The first one says to the other, "Remove a toothpick from your teeth", and the second responds "Remove a log from your eyes". Now the meaning is clear: the first person points at a flaw in the second person, that can be remedied. The other responds in a somewhat ambiguous way. First, it may mean to say he doesn't have the flaw attributed to him by the first person, because the other person, with a log between his eyes, cannot see the flaws of others well, and in fact the other person does not have the flaw attributed to him. Second, as a log is much bigger than a toothpick, the other person responds in an equivalent to saying that the pot was calling the kettle black. The Talmud says the same thing: Rabbi Yohanan comments on Ruth 1:1, "In the days that the judges ruled" (which in the Hebrew original can also be read in the days that the judges were judged) by using this idiom, meaning that in a generation that judges it's own judges, if a judge points out your shortcoming, the judge himself may be suffering from a bigger one yet. In Matthew 7 the context appears close to what Rabbi Yohanan was talking about, because it first talks about judging others. The entire passage in Matthew is closely parallel to the Talmudic discourse.