“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Verses three to five illustrate the principle of verse one—do not judge. Judgment is valid but only with qualification; we must first judge ourselves.
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
Note the contrast between the “plank” and the “speck.” A speck is a small piece of dust and a plank is a large beam of wood. Jesus exaggerates the contrasts between the critic and the person he criticizes. He contrasts the least significant and the most significant.
The terms for seeing—“look” and “consider”—are different words in the Greek. The word “consider” means to carefully consider. We see the faults of others easily but it is difficult to see faults in self, so we must carefully consider ourselves. The word “look” is superficial observation. Superficial observation towards other people causes us to make misjudgments about them.
Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
This verse repeats the content of verse three, except this one emphasizes what we say about it.
A hypocrite is someone who is inconsistent. The hypocrite here is one who judges another but has a greater sin.
First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
It is hard to see with a plank in our eye; if we pull it out, we will have better vision of the reality of things.
The word “remove” is cast out. The issue is not only the ability to see the problem but to correct the problem.
God expects us to judge ourselves before we evaluate others.
It is easy to see small faults in others while we miss the big issue in our own lives. It is ironic that the person with the bigger problem has the temerity to criticize another.
Self-criticism spares us from criticism of others. When we recognize sin in self, our criticism of others’ sin is quickly subdued.
David prayed that God would give him a “clean heart.” He wrote Psalm 51 after his sin with Bathsheba and murder of her husband.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Ps 51:10
After this prayer, then David could “teach transgressors.”
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Ps 51:13