Liquid Footprints

Judging, planks, and pigs

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The Plank and the MoteMost everyone has heard about Jesus’ words (according to Matthew) “Judge not lest you are judged,” the plank and the splinter in the eye, and throwing pearls to pigs. You can find them in chapter 7 of Matthew. Their meanings have made many a sermon, but it seems few sermons focus on the underlying message: compassion.

Jesus tells his audience not to judge others. The criteria of your judgement will be returned to you. Judgmental people tend to have other people think little of them. They rarely measure up to their own criteria.

Forestalling judgment fits into Jesus’ scaffold of compassion; condemn is sometimes used in translations of this verse. “Condemn not that you may not be condemned.” The act of judging is to determine guilt or innocence. Most often the judgement errs on the side of guilt. The word “condemn” may be a better word for what Jesus had in mind. It is difficult to view someone compassionately when condemning them.

Reverend Fun comicJesus goes on with a little humor. Picture someone with a boat plank in their eye trying to help someone with a splinter. The lesson of the plank and splinter?  We need to look after ourselves before we can help others. We all have problems and hang ups. Condemning another or meddling “helpfully” in another’s affairs is hypocritical. Worry and focus on others blind us to what we need to improve in ourselves. It can be a form of escapism.

Finally, Jesus tells us not to cast pearls to swine. Remember, swine were considered unclean in Judaism. He is saying we shouldn’t invest ourselves in “helping” people who don’t want our help. It can rebound and tear at us. It is just meddling. The most precious thing we possess is ourselves. We need to be selective with how we spend our limited time and energy. Spending ourselves on someone who won’t appreciate us isn’t want God wants us to do. We can use our time much more effectively on someone who is open and will treasure our pearls.

To sum up these verses:

  1. Don’t be judgmental. You make the same mistakes; be compassionate.
  2. Don’t blindly help. Focus on oneself until you can see and know clearly.
  3. Don’t invest yourself in people who don’t need or want your help. What is dear to you won’t be appreciated, and you can be taken advantage of.
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Author: Chris

Wanders the world of Japanese culture and library nerdiness.

2 thoughts on “Judging, planks, and pigs

  1. Ha ha ha! I love Reverend Fun. And “escapism” was such a great word choice! Indeed. Just last night I was watching a broadcast of mid-week service in which the pastor was bringing to mind the fact that spiritual children (that is to say, immature in the faith) ought not be running around chastising others. Yet, that is what happens so very often in the Church. I’m don’t recall where he got his stats from, but he referred to a survey that said the people who don’t attend church are highly non-discriminatory (in all forms); those who are most discriminatory (in all forms) are those who go to church roughly twice a month; and those who are the least discriminatory of all are those who go to church roughly 17 times a month. Clearly, those who participate in self-examination and reformation often are the ones with the most experience from which to counsel others wisely. If only more churches would implement a discipleship program where each new believer is educated along a general path of development, such that progress to spiritual maturity could be more clearly known. We think nothing of this for secular education. How is something so vital being left out? Struggle to maintain power, methinks.

    It was way too fast for me to absorb thoughtfully, so I’ll have to go back and give it another go (or three) before I can say I agree or disagree, but at the very least as an artist you might enjoy the video found here: http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/05/06/rsa-animate-empathic-civilisation/

    • I’ve read the same ideas of the video (which is pretty cool) in various books like the one I’m currently reading “The Evolution of God.” From the bit I know, the video’s author has the data correct.

      Compassion is different from empathy, but empathy does form a part of it. Both are grounded in the reality of suffering, of course.

      I’ve found much the same thing about church attendance. It is unfortunate that religiosity is inversely proportional to the individual’s level of discrimination and compassion. It just underlines the fact religiosity does not equal spirituality or connection with God.

      Buddhism does have programs similar to what you suggest. In Plum Village, for example, before anyone is allowed to marry they have to complete a year long course that teaches them to connect with their true self, compassion, and techniques to handle the inevitable conflicts of marriage. Before someone can marry, they have to know who they are deep down. Christianity could benefit from such a model, not just in marriage (which is deeply needing help) but in aspects you suggest. How can we expect to know God if we don’t even know who we truly are?

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