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Splinters and Beams
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5
It seems like any time the Church addresses sin, the common (almost automatic) response is “stop judging.”
And, no matter how many times the Church reiterates that we are to hate the sin and love the sinner, people still resist. No one likes to be told what they are doing is wrong. Oftentimes, we see this manifested in how others will try to convince you of their beliefs in an attempt to justify their own actions.
While we must not be afraid to judge sin for what it is, we must also remember Christ’s words. Many people read the above passage and stop after the first sentence where it says “stop judging” and think: “A-ha! See, stop telling me what to do.” But, that’s not the full story. Christ reminds us that we all have splinters or beams that need to be removed. Christ does not say that we should turn a blind eye to sin, ignoring the splinters and beams in our own eyes. We’re called to help one another to purify our souls, which requires purging sin from our lives. And, that starts with us — an examination of our own faults.
Sin drives a wedge between us and God. Yes, sometimes loving our brothers means having tough conversations. But, we also cannot forget to turn our gaze inward, judging sin in our own lives. Only with clear eyes can we work side-by-side with our brothers to battle sin.