39 And He also spoke a parable to them: “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will [y]be like his teacher. 41 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
One of the reasons to be merciful to others, one of the reasons to refrain from judging or condemning others is because of the sin in our lives. We’re all subject to sin, we’re all harboring some struggle within our inner selves, and some of us are falling on a regular basis. So when we judge or condemn behavior in others while tolerating the same or worse behavior in our own lives, we are blind guides. We are putting others under a standard that we cannot or choose not to live up to. We’re being hypocrites. We are being Pharisees. Religious men who appear good to others on the outside, but inside are just as corrupt and decadent or wish they could be.
And those we take on a role to judge or instruct in what is right will be just like us in the end. They will learn not to refrain from sinning or to go forth and do what is good to others, they will learn to hide their sins from others. They will learn to judge others. They will learn to condemn. In our hypocrisy, we will perpetuate hypocrisy in others.
The frequent charge against the church is that they are filled with hypocrites. And it is a charge that is more often than not correct. We tolerate all manner of things within our ranks, while condemning the world and staking out a claim to be the defenders of traditional morality.
And the world sees that we have a plank in our eye. They’re not stupid. They can clearly see our moral failings and shortcomings and those in Christian and Catholic leadership. And they scoff rightly when we tell them we’re going to help them by removing a tiny little piece of sawdust from their eye.
If we wish to positively influence others, we must first examine our own lives. We must first stop making excuses for our hypocrisy. We must first confess our sins to ourselves, stop the self-deception, and apologize before God and man for our own hypocrisy.
And we must be merciful towards others, as God has granted and will continue to grant His mercy towards us.
43 For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
We all like to believe that we’re good. We are the hero of our own story. No man sets out to be evil. He always finds a way to justify it.
But our actions are what matter, not our intent, or our justifications.
If my actions are evil, then I am evil. If I am consistently doing what is wrong, then my heart is in the wrong, and I must cease doing wrong to make a positive change.
What actions am I engaged in that negatively impact others? That harms others? That hurt this world and makes it a worse place in which to live? These are the things in my life which I must cease doing.
What are some good actions we can take today? What can we do that will positively impact our family, our co-workers, strangers, and our world? These are the things which I must go out and do today.