Matthew 7:4

ESV 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?
NIV How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
NASB Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, the log is in your own eye?
CSB Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the splinter out of your eye,' and look, there's a beam of wood in your own eye?
NLT How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?
KJV Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

What does Matthew 7:4 mean?

Jesus is calling out the universal human tendency to inflate the wrongdoing of other people while minimizing our own. Jesus has forbidden His listeners from presuming God's place by making shallow judgments of others (Matthew 7:1–2). One reason we are unqualified to pronounce judgment superficially is that we are so often blind to our own wrongdoing. We are capable of noticing "specks" in the lives of others, while the "logs" in our own may be far greater than what we're trying to correct in another person.

The picture Jesus uses to illustrate this point is intentionally comical. In the rare cases where someone asks for help removing something from their eye, it can be hard for another person to see it. One can imagine the helper peering intently into someone else's eyes, trying to see a tiny fleck of dust. In contrast, it's absurd to think of that "helper" doing so while they have a huge stick jammed into their own eye. It would be a complete farce for someone impaled on a stick to examine others so closely that they can notice mere specks, and even more ridiculous to tell the other person they have an issue which must be fixed.

Some listening to Jesus' words here, given during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–2) may have laughed. The imagery is meant to be extreme, and even humorous. The meaning behind this visual joke isn't so funny. Jesus will call the one with the log in his eye a hypocrite in the following verse for being unwilling to deal with his own sin while calling out sin in the life of another (Matthew 7:5). However, it should be noted that Jesus does, in fact, endorse the act of helping another to remove their "speck."
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: