INTRODUCTION This is a word to the "spiritual". Jesus must have turned His primary attention to the twelve as He spoke these words. In them Jesus touches on one of the primary dangers to those who become serious about discipleship. It is the danger of living by a double standard, or overŽ looking some of the real beams in your life. We need to watch for the beams!
The double standard is seen rather easily. We are so quick to condemn something in the life of another person while we tolerate something even more offensive in our own lives. We have one standard for others, and another standard for ourselves. We assume the role of the teacher, and offer uninvited help to everyone around us. We make ourselves needlessly offensive, and become a hindrance to the work of God. The problem is more common than we might think. Indeed, most of us who have been leaders in the church very long have probably been guilty of not watching for the beams.
There must have been a smile on the face of Jesus as He spoke this parable. You cannot help but see the humor in the blind man attempting to lead another blind man, or in the man trying to get a small speck out of the eye of his friend while he has a large beam protruding from his own eye. Let us see what we can learn about living the life that will stand the storms from this parable.
I. WE HAVE DIFFICULTY SEEING THE BEAMS Clear perception of life is important in the Christian life. Anything that will hinder our spiritual vision is a problem. Jesus describes these impairments to vision as being "motes" or ''beams''. The primary difference in the two would be their size. Both of them would cause a great deal of pain to the eye, and both obviously impair the vision.
A. What is the Beam? Did our Lord have some particular sin in mind? Dr. G. Campbell Morgan thinks so. He identifies the beam as being a critical, censorious spirit. He thinks that this is a greater hindrance to spiritual perception than many of the things that it would condemn in the life of others. He thinks this to be more offensive to the unsaved world than many of the other things we would label as being sinful. He may be right. All of us know by experience how offensive such a person can become. This kind of spirit in a person makes you want to withdraw from their presence and to avoid them. You will feel a certain tension and uneasiness any time you are in their presence. You will have the feeling when you are around them that they are measuring you and finding you short. In fact, you may feel more comfortable in the presence of someone who has been guilty of a serious offence against the Lord.
We probably should not limit the beam to such a critical spirit, but it will surely be a part of it.
B. Why is it difficult to see? The difficulty is caused by human pride. While it would seem that anything so obvious would be quickly seen, human pride blinds us to the reality about ourŽselves. This is especially true of spiritual pride, cr pride of grace. It is the most offensive of the different forms of pride, and the most common among the disciples. Such pride will blind us to the truth about ourselves. It will cause us to become so pre occupied with the "motes'' of others that we never realize the sizable problem that has developed in our lives. It will also prevent us from seeing the good that may be present in the life of others.
One of the best known Bible expositors among conservative Christians fell into the trap. He became so critical of contemporary Christians and of modern churches, that finally he could not find even one church in which he could comfortably worship. As a result he and his wife began to hold Sunday worship at home. Thereby he cut himself off from the people of God. What a grievous thing this blindness to the beams can be!
II. THE REMOVAL OF THE BEAMS IS A PAINFUL PROCESS A. the sensitivity of the spirit. Just as a "mote" or "beam" might get into the organ of the eye, so these spiritual "motes" or "beams" can get into the spirit of man. Surely Jesus uses the organ of the eye because of its special sensitivity. Even a little speck of dust in the eye car become a painful and blinding problem. It will hinder anything that you may have planned. You can imagine how much pain a "beam" might cause! The very nature of the human spirit will make it a painful process to extract a "beam" from the life. You do not understand your spiritual makeup if you take lightly This process.
B. The strength of the beam. Most of us have had no experience trying to remove something very large from the eye. We probably have tried to remove some small foreign particle that has invaded that sensitive area. Jesus surely chose the "beam" to call attention to the size of it, and to the seriousness of it. It is a much greater threat to the well being of the eye than a small speck. Furthermore, the removal of it will be much more painful. While the speck would probably lie on the surface, and would come away rather easily with proper care, the beam would probably be imbedded into the eye, and cause great pain.
Personal holiness does not come cheap. It comes only to those who are willing to undergo the pain of removing the beams. There will be the pain of subjecting yourself to the counsel of others, the struggle of removing from your life the offensive matter. If you expect to develop Godly character in three easy steps, you are in for some surprises. Lives that reflect godly character have been willing to undergo the painful process of removing the "beams" from their life.
III. THE REMOVAL OF THE BEAMS PREPARES US TO HELP OTHERS We do have friends who have "motes" in their eyes, and they need our ministry. They need someŽ one to help them extract this bothersome thing from their lives. They will probably never be able to get it out without some help. Jesus says, "Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye." The qualities needed to help others are developed as you go through the painful process of developing personal holiness in your life.
A. Humility is Developed. Dealing with the "beam" in your life humbles you. It develops in you a proper perspective of yourself and others. The problem of your brother truly looks like a "mote" by the time you get your beam out.
Interestingly this is the quality that Paul called for when performing such a ministry. Brethren if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Gal. 6:1) That "spirit of meekness'' is this humility that comes as you rid your life of the "beams".
B. Understanding is Developed. If you have removed "beams" from your life, you will know the pain a brother is feeling as you help him get the mote out of his life. Such understanding gives you the capacity to weep with those that weep. It takes away the air of professionalism, and replaces it with true compassion. This will be the result of really being serious about personal holiness in your life.
C. Faith is Developed As God enables you to remove the offensive "beam" from your life, your confidence in His ability to help your brother with his problem will be greatly increased. You will be able to give greater encouragement as you bear witness to God's "beam removing" power. Such faith is so important in ministering to others with problems. Most of them are in desperate need of hope.
The pain of the "mote" has just about convinced them that there is no way to ever be rid of it.
God has a special school for spiritual ophthalmologists. He teaches them how to remove motes by letting them practice on themselves. They learn how to deal with the problems of others by dealing with their own problems. You will not be qualified to minister to others until you have dealt with your own problems successfully.
CONCLUSION The life that will stand the storms is marked by clear spiritual perception. The inner vision of the soul is unimpaired. Such perception or vision is gained by the careful, painful removal of the ''beams'' from the life.
Where should you begin? Why not ask God to let you see all of the "beams" that may be a part of your life? He will probably choose to do this through some trusted friend who will be honest enough with you to tell you about the things that hinder. Let me urge you to be serious enough about personal holiness to seek out a trusted friend, and let them help you identify the areas that need attention. This is pain that will surely profit!