What does Matthew 7:3 mean?
ESV: Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
NIV: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
NASB: Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
CSB: Why do you look at the splinter in your brother's eye but don't notice the beam of wood in your own eye?
NLT: And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?
KJV: And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
NKJV: And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
Verse Commentary:
Earlier verses contained a statement which is easily—and often—taken out of context. Jesus has commanded that His followers "judge not" (Matthew 7:1), but immediately begun to explain what this really means (Matthew 7:2). In short, what Christ condemns is shallow, hypocritical, or selfish criticism of others. Christ is clear that "right judgment" (John 7:24) includes distinguishing between good and evil (Matthew 7:15–18). Judging others as if we, ourselves, are the standard of goodness is evil.

God doesn't give human beings authority to judge the righteousness of others using our own preferences as the standard. None of us are perfectly righteous ourselves. We are in no position to casually pronounce judgment because we ourselves can be guilty of sin.

Jesus shows in this verse that we are often blind to our own sins. This makes shallow condemnation towards others even more foolish. This again uses the technique of exaggeration for effect, known as hyperbole. Jesus asks why we are so skillful to see a speck in a brother's eye and so unable to notice the log in our own eye. It seems human beings can recognize the smallest of sinful infractions in the lives of others while walking around with obvious and ugly sins of their own. This is human nature, and it is why God forbids His people to assume His role as judge over their brothers and sisters.

It's crucial to realize, however, what Jesus says in verse 5. Once the "log" has been removed from our eye, we are told to then help remove the speck from our brother's eye. The difference is that in helping our brother in this way, we are no longer attempting to be his judge. We are acknowledging the reality of sin, submitting to it ourselves, and serving our brother by helping him. Likewise, those "specks" and "logs" are truly sinful; the point is not that everything we see in others must be accepted, but that we should approach sin with humility and grace, not arrogance.
Verse Context:
Matthew 7:1–6 delivers Jesus' declaration that His followers must not pronounce God's judgment on each other. Those who do try to take God's role in this way will be judged in the same way themselves. Human beings are not qualified to pronounce judgment because they are blind to their own sin. To help another with a speck in his eye, a person must first remove the log of obvious sin from his own eye. He also warns against wasting time or effort on those who clearly have no interest; they won't appreciate it and may attack you for it.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 7 is the last of three chapters that record what is now known as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus commands His hearers not to pronounce shallow or hypocritical judgment. He describes God as a generous Father eager to give good things to His children when they ask. He commands His followers to enter the narrow gate and walk the hard road to life. False prophets can be recognized by their fruit, meaning their actions and choices. At the same time, good deeds are not absolute proof that someone has true faith. To live by Jesus' teaching is like building the house of your life on a solid foundation instead of shifting sand.
Chapter Context:
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount in chapter 5, discussing the Beatitudes and the idea that inner thoughts are very much part of sin and righteousness. Chapter 6 denounced hypocrisy, modeled prayer, and opposed anxiety. Chapter 7 discusses the proper manner of judgment, including how to gauge the teachings of others. Jesus also warns against spiritual self-deception. He concludes with an analogy about foundations and storms. The crowd's amazement at Christ's teachings leads into the miracles and encounters of chapters 8 and 9.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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