Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pull Out That Plank

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the plank that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the plank is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.                      Matthew 7: 3-5

America is so obsessed with political correctness that we have come to worship our emotions. Let’s face it, America’s greatest sin is for someone to make anyone feel offended. 

You may think that is an exaggeration, but look at the news headlines. Some obscure caste suddenly imagines themselves victimized by a traditional name or value and their suffering missiles them into dictatorship. Then everyone is intimidated into obedience to this new “nice” and dares not disagree.

The truth; even cold hard facts are forced to bow and serve the goddess of Nice. It no longer matters if you are biologically male or female, it matters how you feel about your gender identity. And in order for everyone to feel good about themselves, each of us must occasionally pretend a male is female or visa versa.

This idolatry of emotions is brainwashing Christians with the false-humility-driven mantra that, “I am the biggest sinner” therefore they can never hypocritically breathe a word of criticism against another person. 

As if the meek who inherit the earth demure in the face of sin. As if silence is sweet and humble.

Notice the next time you observe someone petting his favorite sin and he even suspects that you might be disapproving, he will spit out the biblical text of “judge not” or the passage above about taking the plank out of your eye first. This is a complete misrepresentation of what Christ said.

God never commands us to be nice. Nor did He give anyone a conscientious objector status when it comes to the war of sin. Though we are not to judge someone’s heart or their ultimate salvation, we are absolutely to confront sin in others.

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Matt. 18: 15

My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.  Galatians 6: 1-2

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom... Colossians 3: 16

Instead, in order that none of you be deceived by sin and become stubborn, you must help one another every day... Heb. 3:13

The early Church Fathers agreed that this passage wasn’t about keeping silent when we see others sin but about our responsibility to courageously face our own sin. It is also about our attitude of love as we help others remove sin from their lives.

St. Augustine (Sermon on the Mount II, 18, 19) tells us that we should not confront others simply to condemn, but to cure and correct them. Nevertheless, he also tells us that we must correct. “For to reprove sin is the duty of the good.” 

He goes so far as to advise us that when we encounter someone who is sinning with something we ourselves are battling with, we must not remain quiet but invite them to struggle against the sin with us.

St. Augustine writes that love demands that we correct someone sinning. For those who keep silent when a mortal sin is committed without reproof exhibits the very definition of hate itself. Hate is silent, not love.

St. Chrysostom writes about this verse, “Therefore He bids him who is chargeable with many sins, not to be a harsh judge of another’s faults, especially if they be small. Herein not forbidding to arraign and correct; but forbidding to make light of our own sins, and magnify those of others. For it behoves you first diligently to examine how great may be your own sins, and then try those of your neighbor.”

Christ’s words recorded in Matthew seven are not about passivity when you see your brother’s speck in his eye. It is a direct command to see clearly. Remove the sins in our lives and as we become righteous we can more clearly see to effectively and gently help others remove the sins that enslave them.

Christ is calling us to holiness, not to silence.