Clear Eyes, Full Heart

Sunday, September 4, 2022
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier 

Matthew 7:1-12

It is Labor Day weekend, and this marks the end of our summer worship schedule. It is also the last week in our sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount.

In this series, we have heard Jesus boldly proclaim that he came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. In example after example Jesus deepened the law – taking it from an external behavior control strategy to a matter of the heart. His focus has been on love and relationship, rather than rules.

Not only that, but Jesus also redefined what righteousness was all about. Or at least the way the religious leaders of his day understood it. Their righteousness was all about showy religiosity and rule scorekeeping. But for Jesus? Righteousness was about right relationships and love. Toward God and others.

What a breath of fresh air.

The self-righteousness of the religious leaders showed itself in a parade of religious performances – They were given to strutting their stuff through the streets with long public prayers, trumpeting their alms giving, and avoiding the unclean with a wide berth. They were so enamored with their own strict rule keeping that they looked down their noses at everyone else and took it upon themselves to judge everyone’s performance. Ugh.

In today’s passage, Jesus warns against this kind of judgment with a hilarious image of someone noticing a tiny speck in another person’s eye – for some minor infraction.

You might expect Jesus to have said, “Why do you look at the speck in your neighbor’s eye and pay no attention to the speck in your own eye.” You know, Eye-for-eye, speck-for-speck. Just take out your own speck first.

But instead. Jesus says, You hypocrite! You are worried about the sawdust speck in another’s eye, but a huge honking log is in your own eye!!

Can you even imagine how ridiculous it would be to see someone with a log sticking out of their eye trying to get close to another person? Not only would they be practically blind, but they’d knock over anyone they tried to get close to.

Stop, and take out that log from your own eye, Jesus says, and then you can see clearly to help another… without knocking them out.

According to a 2007 study of U.S. 16-29 year-olds, almost 90 percent felt Christians were judgmental.[1] Ninety percent! We want to be seen as welcoming and loving, but apparently, we have logs in our eyes.

How do we take out that log? Especially when we are rather blind to the fact that it is even there.

Jesus tells us to Ask, to Seek, and to Knock.

  • Ask for God’s wisdom that we might see where we have been self-righteous and judgmental.
  • Seek God’s forgiveness and the gift of clear eyes – that we might see ourselves and others as God sees. Made in the image of God, cherished, and forgiven.
  • And knock – that the door of a new way of life might be opened to us. And that God’s love would soften our hearts and transform us from the inside out.

And our gracious and generous God, who loves far more than any earthly Father, will “give these good gifts to those who ask.”

The truth is that if someone is struggling, they are mostly likely very aware of their own failings or shortcomings. They don’t need you to them point out. Rather than a reprimand, what is most needed is a word of encouragement and a reminder that they are loved, and they matter.

The best rule of thumb is to treat others – specks and all – as you would want them to treat you.

Which is exactly what Jesus teaches in verse 12. “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” We know this as the Golden Rule. It has been taught by many great religious and moral leaders both before and after Jesus, including Confucius, the ancient Greeks, and Mahatma Gandhi to name a few. It is a universal and abiding truth worth living by.

Can you imagine if the whole world were to follow it? What peace and joy we would know. But in Christ’s sermon there is an important distinction –This rule is all about God’s heart and God’s deep and unconditional love. We can’t keep the law on our own, but through God’s love we are empowered and set free to reflect the love of God – for us and for others.

So, what does the Golden Rule look like, practically in daily life?

It might look like this year’s Southwest Region Little League championship when a pitch went awry and hit 12-year-old batter Isaiah Jarvis in the head, knocking off his helmet. After getting up and signaling that he was okay, Jarvis walked to first base. He was okay, but he noticed that the pitcher Kaiden Shelton was not. He was clearly upset, struggling, and hanging his head because it was his pitch that hit Isaiah in the head.

But then, Isaiah slowly walked to the pitcher’s mound and wrapped his arms around the pitcher, assuring him that he was okay. “You’re doing great,” Isaiah said in his ear. He knew that if he were in Kaiden’s position, he would want that same reassurance and encouragement.

We all want to be treated with respect and like we matter. We want to belong. We want to feel safe and loved. We want to treated kindly, patiently, graciously, and honestly. We yearn to be forgiven, affirmed, and have our needs for food, fellowship, and shelter met.

Here is where our faith meets life.

This week you will encounter other people. They might be close to you: Family, or friends. Some may be acquaintances, coworkers, or complete strangers. Ask to see them with God’s eyes, eyes of love. And then ask yourself:

What would want if I were in their place?” What would I need If I were in their shoes? And then? Do it.

When you do, you will fulfill the essence of “the Law and the Prophets.”

And the deep and merciful love of God will be reflected in your life.


[1] The Barna Research Group and The Fermi Project, “A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity,” September 2007. Details of the study can be found in the book unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007).

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