December 16, 2017

Diagnosing the Christian Vision Problem

Thomas Overmiller

Sawdust in your eye prevents you from seeing anything clearly. It burns your eyes and makes them water. You will be ineffective at everything until you remove the sawdust. As I share this illustration, I am confident that you empathize with this situation. We all know what this is like.

But have you ever been unfortunate enough to have a log lodged in your eye? Probably not an actual physical log. But what about a spiritual one? Jesus describes this very unfortunate circumstance in Matthew 7:1-5.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

I’m not entirely sure what Jesus is saying here. First, He might be saying that believers who broadcast inappropriate verdicts on others in this life will experience the same treatment from others in this life. Second, He may be indicating that those who do this will experience comparable consequences at the future bema seat. Or third, perhaps He is intimating some degree of both, comparable consequences both in this life and at the bema seat.

In any case, the consequences of hypocritical judgment-passing are certainly undesirable.

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”

Jesus is diagnosing a problem between believers. He mentions “thy brother’s eye.” The problem is remarkable, one brother informing another of a splinter in his eye. When you have a splinter in your eye, the last thing you need is for another person to tell you about it, especially someone who has a log crammed into his own eye-socket while he talks to you about your splinter! What you really need is someone to help you remove the splinter.

A brother with a log in his own eye is hardly qualified to offer helpful solutions.

Remember Job’s friends? They enjoyed telling Job he was guilty and pontificating about the precise reason for his tragedies. They appeared to be very discerning, but they were entirely unprepared to offer genuine solutions.

“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Believers have a mutual responsibility to provide genuine solutions to the spiritual needs of other fellow believers. However, we tend to enjoy diagnosing problems rather than solving them. As a further complication, we tend to be more interested in broadcasting our verdicts about others rather than resolving more obvious spiritual needs in our own lives. Only after we have allowed Christ to reveal our own spiritual needs and restore us in those areas can we be qualified to solve spiritual needs for other believers.

So, have you ever noticed a personal tendency to broadcast the apparent spiritual problems of other believers and churches when you are guilty of similar and more obvious spiritual problems yourself? This appears to be the kind of spiritual need that Jesus is warning against, and it indicates a need for personal revival. As a point of testimony, this is something that the Lord has been teaching me over the past year or two. I have so much more to learn.

When you notice apparent faults in the lives of other believers, allow me to suggest some questions to ask prayerfully before you pass a judgment, whether privately or publicly. These questions have been a help to me. I have asked for the Holy Spirit to remind me of questions like this (especially 1 and 2) as often as necessary.

  • Do I have a similar spiritual problem?
  • Do I have a more obvious spiritual problem?
  • By broadcasting this this apparent problem, am I really causing a diversion from my own spiritual problem?
  • Does broadcasting this apparent problem really provide a meaningful solution?
  • Do I genuinely care to provide a spiritual solution for this problem that may require personal involvement and sacrifice?
  • Would prayer about this apparent problem be more effective than broadcasting it to others?

Yes, believers have a mutual responsibility to provide genuine solutions to the spiritual needs of other fellow believers. This should not be avoided. It is the friendly, loving thing to do. (And we should be eternally grateful for any friends who are willing to help us in this way.) But you can only fulfill this responsibility genuinely when you first have allowed the Lord to resolve the more obvious spiritual needs in your own life. This honesty will foster an attitude of humility that equips you to come alongside brothers and sisters in Christ to provide meaningful spiritual solutions suitable for Christian friendships that in turn foster revival.

Thomas Overmiller serves as a Bible professor at Baptist College of Ministry in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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