39Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? 40Studentsd are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.
41“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eyee when you have a log in your own? 42How can you think of saying, ‘Friend,f let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
I see this a little differently than it is traditionally seen. Normally the passage is read as a “do not judge” passage and, depending on what you mean by “judge”, that would be accurate…but I think in complete. So let’s examine this a little and see what more, perhaps, God is saying.
Notice, that it doesn’t say that one blind man can’t tell another blind person that they are blind and they both need help. It doesn’t say that the person with the log in his eye can’t point out that the other person is suffering because something is in his eye. It just says we can’t pretend to be great and perfect and able to tell others what to do differently if we ourselves have the same or worse problem.
What does this look like in real life? I’ll try to throw out a fictitious short story that will hopefully make us smile, and maybe make us think.
Bob and Tom are sitting on the third and fourth stools from the south end of the bar at BT’s Bar and Grill on a Thursday at 6:15. When Bob gets up to go the the restroom Tom notices that the imprint in the seat padding clearly shows that Bob’s wallet is in his left pocket and his cell phone is in his right. When Bob returns Tom says “Man, you’re gonna have to at least wiggle your butt once in awhile or pretty soon you’ll have to pay to get your stool recovered. Look, it practically has an imprint of the hair on your ass permanently worn into the fabric now!”
Bob fails to see the humor in the situation and responds: “You’re one to talk. I see you up here every night when I walk in. You’re sitting in the same stool drinking the same drink. In another hour I’ll watch you stumble out of here, get in your car, and drive home…I hope…to that wife that isn’t gonna tolerate your crap much longer. You’re an alcoholic and a jerk. You need to spend more time at AA meetings and at home or your whole life is going to hell!”
It seems to me that Bob just did pretty much exactly what Jesus said not to do. On other subject to different degrees we all have done that. I could be doing it right now! But what if it had played out a little differently? We’ll pick it up at the end of the first paragraph. Tom is talking to Bob: “…Look, it practically has an imprint of the hair on your ass permanently worn into the fabric now!”
Bob looks down at the bar stool and sure enough he can recognize the imprint even without looking over his shoulder into a mirror. He looks at the glass in his hand that he took with him to the restroom and finished while he was in there. Up on the bar next to Tom’s glass is another full one the bartender put there without even asking because he knew how to get a bigger tip from Bob.
Bob looks at Tom and says, “What are we doin Tom? We see each other more than we see our wives. We spend more money up here than we do at the grocery store. Tom, I think we have problem. I don’t know why you’re here…heck I’m not sure why I’m here. But if something doesn’t change you and I are going to ruin our lives on these stools. I don’t think I can do this alone and you’re the person I already spend more time with than anyone except my coworkers. What do you say you help me figure out where the AA meetings are in town and make sure I go, and if you want I’ll help you go with me? I hear the one place actually has stools so people like us feel at home. Will you help me?”
The bartender hands them each a card. On one side is the address and times for the local AA meetings. On the other side is the bartender’s phone number. It reads “I’ll pray for you. Call me sometime since I won’t be seeing you here anymore.”
Jesus goes to bars all the time, we just don’t recognize him.
Lord, when someone points out the log in my eye, help me say thank-you.