Remove The Plank
Updated: Sep 13, 2020
This particular passage of scripture has become one of the most twisted and improperly applied passages in the entire bible in our modern culture. Sinners and rebellious church goers will allude to this passage in a weak attempt to shut down and shut up anyone who has enough courage to point out the error of their ways. “Judge not” they cry...
“First remove the plank from your own eye…” (Matthew 7:5)
This statement from the Master is a command to each of us. “Remove the plank.” We must remove everything that hinders us from seeing correctly, walking accordingly, and becoming the men and women of God that we are created to be. We must. It is an absolute necessity. But, with that said, this particular passage of scripture has become one of the most twisted and improperly applied passages in the entire bible in our modern culture. Sinners and rebellious church goers will allude to this passage in a weak attempt to shut down and shut up anyone who has enough courage to point out the error of their ways. “Judge not” they cry. But an actual examination of the passage will show just how ignorant of a statement that really is. “Judge not that you be not judged… for with what judgment you judge, you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2). The real warning is to realize that we will be judged with the same measure that we judge. In other words – judge yourself first. BUT THEN you are ready to correct another that is in error. I’ve said it many times: “I’m ready to be judged; and with the exact same measure that I would judge anyone else.” That’s the point. Live a life that is consistent with what you preach – AND THEN you have the right AND responsibility to help others, even if it includes a righteous judgment against sin in their lives. Helping others often means being honest enough to call sin exactly as it is – sin. The same error is made when we ONLY look at half of the statement “remove the plank from your own eye”. Yes indeed. We must. But that is not all the sentence says. The sentence is completed with these words: “THEN you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” That’s the goal: get the filth out of our lives AND help others do the same. There is a time and a place, and a NEED for the pointing out, holding accountable, and requiring repentance of the sinner or the professing Christian who is in obvious rebellion against the commands of God. That time and place is AFTER we have first removed the plank in our own eyes, but THEN we have the duty, and God-given obligation of helping others.
All too often many self-professed Christians hide behind this passage as an excuse to say nothing at all about evil and sin in the lives of those around us. Surely God will hold to account such cowardice. They refuse to warn others of the dangers and consequences of sin; and that because they foolishly think that somehow this passage condemns such a thing. Not in any way does this passage condemn judging sin. Nor does this passage condemn holding someone accountable to remove sin that is in their lives. What it condemns is attempting to do so without first doing the same thing in our own lives. We sin, not in ‘judging’, but rather in refusing to “First remove the plank from your own eye.” But, to the one who has been faithful to God in dealing with his own sins; to the one who has judged his own heart and repented accordingly – that man then has a God-given duty and responsibility to help others out of the mess of sin that seeks to destroy their lives and seal their fate in a devil’s hell. That man is on good ground and can rest assured that he is ready to be judged with the same measure that he judges. That man has removed the plank in his eye and is ready now to help another do the same. And help he must.