Managing Our Innate Hypocrisy.
Luke 6: 39 – 49.
Having spoken about believers’ relationships in community earlier, the Lord Jesus next addressed a pertinent issue to do with our own attitude in relating to others. It is a no brainer to realise that we are often blissfully blind to our own faults, however glaring they may be. Others around us see them much more clearly. Hence, the introduction of a hyperbole in His story that illustrated the Lord’s outrage that arose over the disciples’ judgmental spirit concerning others: 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? (Luke 6:41-42). A close psychological parallel would be a projection of our own weaknesses on to others and blaming them for whatever mishaps that may have occurred, thereby averting attention towards ourselves. Arrogance, prejudice, and a disparaging stance are the normal outcome of such unashamed displays of our blind spots (Luke 6:39-40).
The human psyche’s natural desire to be well accepted and regarded by our society, especially within our own community, undeviatingly drives our motivation towards behaviours and conversations that contributes a positive impression to our self-respect. And there is nothing ethically wrong with it. But when our carefully self-managed public persona is inadvertently uncovered by other’s criticism, our sanctimonious reaction is indicative of our inability to come to terms with our inherently fallible nature, irrespective of the validity of the slight. If we do have something in our eye, it is logical that we would be unable to see anything through it, but to not know that we have something in our eye is a despicable pretence of our own sinful state. The Lord calls this hypocrisy, when we fail to remove the beam that is in our eye before pointing out the speck in another’s. The delusion and the injury become self-inflicted! Immediately following this jarring parable, Jesus emphatically implied that a person who is unable to see his own sins will unlikely be able to help another or be a benefit to his community (Luke 6:43-45).
How do we remove the figurative log from our eye? The first step is to be self-confidently transparent to one’s own sinfulness – to recognise and be enduringly aware that we are capable of masquerading our inner most vulnerability that is an affront to God and a travesty to our position in Christ. We certainly are in no position to justify our righteousness and worth when we are unable to save ourselves (Rom 3:23; Rom 5:6-11; Rom 6:1-7). Secondly, to know and experience deep in our hearts that as a result of Christ’s death and His salvation of us, we are reconciled with God and secure in His eternal love for us when we reach out to others (Rom 5:1-5; Eph 1:3-14; c.f., Rom 7:18-25). Grasping the full impact of our position in Christ by allowing His Holy Spirit to fill, embrace and discipline us, witnesses to His selflessness in ministry through us, without our own agenda getting in His way now and again (c.f., Phil 2:1-11; Phil 3:1-16; Col 3:1-10).
Finally, Jesus chided His disciples for calling Him Lord, but cognitively and behaviourally not obeying Him (Luke 6:46). Like the disciples, we often take for granted the commitment our Lord demands from us in being His disciples, thereby diluting our Christ-like testimony with our individuality and independent lifestyle. In the end, the Lord warns His disciples that making unwise temporal choices without giving due consideration to eternal values and goals is a useless endeavour. But the one who comes to Him and hears His words and acts on them, his labours will remain redemptive in Christ (Luke 6:47-49).