Have you ever struggled with how you should go to others with the gospel of full surrender to Christ? When a person is caught in his sin, desiring life apart from God, we tend to go to him in one of two extremes: we are either condemning or careless. These are rooted in the two expressions of a proud heart: (1) stone (condemning) or (2) sand (careless).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus described the be-do-go of full surrender, teaching that who we are to be (Matthew 5), determines what we are to do (Matthew 6), which determines where we are to go (Matthew 7). The Master Communicator elaborated on the heart and mannerisms of an effective carrier of His gospel message. He conveyed that we should not go to the world either condemningly or carelessly; rather, we should go connectedly with the Spirit of God in total humility with a heart of clay (Matthew 7:1-12). Consequently, every encounter with another person is a three-way call. When we are connected with God and connected with others, then they are connected with God. Whereas pride brings static to the line; humility offers a clear connection.
Do not go condemningly with a hard heart of stone (Matthew 7:1-5). Jesus commanded, “Do not judge” (Matthew 7:1). Jesus was communicating that we should not condemn because we will be in turn condemned by God and others (Matthew 7:2; cf. Luke 6:37-38). Paul taught that when we condemn others, we pass judgment on ourselves because we do the same things (Romans 2:1). Jesus indicated that the judgment of God is predicated on how we flesh out His heart with others (Matthew 5:7). A hard heart of stone tells condemningly out of judgment and legalism, often pretending to connect with God, while disconnecting with others. A heart of stone requires a severe tool to be shaped and restored.
Jesus linked a condemning heart with the eyes, or one’s perspective. Borrowing an illustration from His construction days, He said that the antidote to a condemning heart was to take the plank out of our own eye so that we can see clearly enough to help someone with the speck in his (Matthew 7:3-5). The plank in our own eye is our personal sin of pride, and it leaves a blind spot (Ephesians 4:18). Jesus referred to a person with this blind spot as a hypocrite — an actor, one with a mask, a pretender. Paul called the Galatians to go restore someone caught in sin with total humility as if they were capable of committing the same mistake — no acting, no masks, no pretending (Galatians 6:1). Someone who has truly received God’s grace simply cannot condemn another person. Jesus, the Author of grace, did not condemn the woman caught in adultery (John 8:10-11).
A tool we use to recognize and remove the plank in our own eye lies in two simple words: “Me, too.” Before we go to anyone caught in his sin, we need to be able to look inside our hearts and say, “Me, too.” These two words free us from going to others with a condemning heart of stone.
This week, remove the plank from your own eye. Whom have you been condemning? Why? How did their behavior fall short of your expectation? How could you get the plank out of your own eye and connect your mistakes with the person(s) you condemned, so that you could say, “Me, too”?