|Volume 24 Number 11 November 2022
A Speck and a Plank
Martha Lynn Rushmore
Matthew 7:3-5 reads as follows.
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye”; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (NKJV)
In place of “plank” in the NKJV, the ESV uses the word “log.” The familiar KJV uses the word “beam.” A “beam” brings to mind the massive, squared trees used a century ago for the interior skeletal structure inside huge dairy barns.
We are to look and to examine ourselves before we concern ourselves about others. We need to look at ourselves before examining how others are living. “Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1).
What is a speck? The dictionary says a speck is a small discoloration or a spot especially from a stain or decay. It is small like a very tiny spot or a dot. Sometimes we get something like an eyelash in an eye. It is tiny and very painful.
What is a plank? Its definition is a heavy, thick board. It is impossible to fit in one’s eye.
What do these objects, a “speck” or a “plank,” in one’s eye mean? A speck is something very tiny and a plank is something exceptionally large. Christ used these objects in the Sermon on the Mount. When Christ taught lessons, He used things about which people knew so they could understand what He was teaching. He used simple and easy words so He would not be misunderstood. The people did not go away and say, “I wonder what that Jesus meant by what He was saying.”
What is a hypocrite? He or she is a person who puts on a false appearance of religion or a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feeling. In other words, a hypocrite says one thing and lives another. Hypocrites want people to think more highly of them than they really deserve. Christ used the word hypocrite in Matthew 23:13-15, 23, 25, 27, 29 when talking to the Scribes and Pharisees. We are taught in the Scriptures that our sins will catch up with us, and they will be found out. If not in this world, but for sure in the Day of Judgment our sins will surface if we have not sought forgiveness.
I have heard and thought to myself, “I hope such and such is listening to the sermon.” Instead of thinking of others who need to heed to a Gospel sermon, I should have been examining my life and my heart, not pointing a finger at others. This is what it means to be hypocritical. I do not need to worry about anyone else until I get my life right with the Lord. I need to get the “beam” out of my eye first.
A beam in my eye is much too large for me to see others. I need to work on my own sins and not worry or try to fix someone else until I have made my life right with the Lord. If I have my life right, then I can help others along the way on their journey to Heaven.
Brethren, we need to try to get to Heaven and take as many as we can with us! We cannot be hypocritical and do this work to help others if we ourselves are not right with God. Remember, actions speak louder than words!
Shall We Cry for Deliverance?
When the people of God fail to keep their part of the covenant He has made with them by falling into sin, God disciplines them with the rod of men. Many accounts in the Old Testament Scriptures – given for our learning (Romans 15:4) – show this very pattern.
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. “When you beget children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land, and act corruptly and make a carved image in the form of anything, and do evil in the sight of the Lord your God to provoke Him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess; you will not prolong your days in it, but will be utterly destroyed. And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. And there you will serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:24-29 NKJV)
The Israelites were by no means in the same position as God’s children today, especially because of their perpetual disobedience and always hardening their hearts’ (Hebrews 3; 4). In fact, most never seem to have been converted in the first place. The Lord showed the beginning of His warning in a pattern that occurred perpetually in the book of Judges. There, the people fell away, cried to the Lord and were delivered – over and over. We see the same pattern occurring throughout Israel’s 1,620-year history. The people fell away to sin, were oppressed, cried to the Lord and were delivered.
Even though Deborah was greatly honored by God because of her leadership and judgment during this time, it certainly was no honor to the people of Israel that their leader was a woman. We see in several passages that it was a sign of God’s keen displeasure when a woman ruled over them.
In the New Testament, we see a better pattern with better promises. Jesus said in Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Affliction and chastening are not signs of God’s anger, but rather of His love. God showed a similar love to one man in the Old Testament. Not only did God greatly love David and richly bless his faithful children, but He also saw something excellent in David’s son Solomon. Even before he became king, He gave him a promise second only to God’s children in the New Testament.
I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever. According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David. (2 Samuel 7:14-17)
God promised to be a father to Solomon and to deal with him as a son. This is the same special promise we find in the New Testament for God’s children (Hebrews 12:5-12). Solomon did go astray, even to the point of worshipping idols (1 Kings 11:1-6). God had warned His kings that if they multiplied wives to themselves, the wives were liable to turn their hearts from Him (Deuteronomy 17:17). As we know, Solomon, in all his wisdom, made the mistake of multiplying wives and paid for it. However, as God had promised David, He did not remove His steadfast love from Solomon. The book of Ecclesiastes must have been written toward the end of his life, for he testified to what he did throughout his life. God granted him understanding, and when he considered, not only his sin, but also the vanities of his life, he repented and turned to God.
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly; For what can the man do who succeeds the king? – Only what he has already done. (Ecclesiastes 2:10-12)
Solomon ended his life, understanding that man’s full duty is to fear God and keep His commandments. God wants all of His children, even if they go astray for a while, to have this understanding. Jesus knows that His children will not only make mistakes, but they also sin. Yet, He chastens and rebukes them to turn them back to the paths of righteousness. He promises never to leave nor forsake us if we will seek Him with all of our hearts and souls (Hebrews 13:5). What a wonderful Lord with so many great and precious promises so that we can be partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4)!
God chastened His people and caused them much pain, and yet, He was faithful to restore them to Himself as soon as they repented. What better example could we have for what is happening in the church and in our nation today than to read such accounts from God’s Word. Truly, He is merciful and just in His dealings with the children of men. Shall we learn from these accounts so that we are not totally destroyed? “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). “O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!” (Psalm 38:1).