“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Luke 6:41)
This rhetorical question by the Lord Jesus incisively points out a sin common among most Christians—the sin of sanctimoniousness, committed in the good name of morality. It is easy to criticize fellow Christians for their moral or ethical deficiencies while simultaneously justifying one’s self for the same or worse defects. “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1).
True morality is generated internally from a heart of gratitude and love for the Lord and His Word, then manifested externally in a godly life of non-self-centered service. Sanctimoniousness is generated from a heart of pride and is manifested in a critical spirit. Morality judges one’s self; sanctimoniousness judges others.
This inconsistency afflicts all of us to some degree, so we need to be especially alert to its outcropping in our own lives. We must condemn sin, of course, but we must at least be as concerned to correct it in ourselves as we are in others. “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10).
And if, indeed, we do see a mote—or even a beam—in a brother’s eye, one that really needs to be removed for the Lord’s sake and that of His testimony, the best procedure is not one of sanctimonious rebuke but of gentle and empathetic edification. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). HMM