“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log 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, ESV).
We all have a shocking level of awareness when it comes to noticing even the tiniest flaws in those around us. You know, that little speck in someone else’s eye that bothers you so much? It’s usually our brother, sister, wife, husband, parents or in-laws. We can gossip about other people's specks for hours that will turn into months and years, never even thinking about our own problems.
Jesus was politically incorrect and outright confrontational when talking about our responsibility in a dispute. “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly…” In other words, start by acknowledging your wrongs, taking responsibility for your own issues. Unfortunately, the unhealthy, dead-end mentality of “It's not me; it's the other person's problem” continues to destroy friendships, couples and entire families.
In my 35 years of pastoring, I have seen so many families break up simply because one person flatly refuses to acknowledge their part in a conflict. I have even seen this stubbornness, pride and hard-heartedness abort the future of young leaders with extraordinary potential. Don't get me wrong. I am aware that the roots of a conflict are almost always deeply complicated and that everyone has their share of responsibility. However, we must recognize the danger of getting bogged down in the quicksand of “It’s their fault. It's the speck in their eye that caused all this.”
Can you imagine the rivers of blessings that could flow into our lives, marriages, families and churches if we put Jesus’ teaching into practice? Imagine the peace revolution that would take place if we all said, “It is my responsibility to move towards reconciliation. It is up to me to examine my heart. I have to ask God to change me. I have to start by acknowledging my faults and sins. I am not solely responsible for the conflict, but I must first remove the beam from my own eye.”
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.