One of the television shows that I have watched, even in reruns during the many years after initial airing of the episodes, is The Andy Griffith Show. The characters are memorable and the stories all had strong character-building messages. If you are not familiar with the characters, Andy was the sheriff of Mayberry, a small fictional town in North Carolina, USA, and Barney was his deputy sheriff. Barney was a man with a good heart, but he had the ability to routinely put his foot in his mouth, and he often made situations far worse because of his misguided actions and his insistence on strict interpretation of the law.
In an episode entitled “Citizen’s Arrest”, Barney and Gomer, the town’s gas station attendant, came into conflict over a traffic ticket, notwithstanding the fact that they were best friends.
Barney wrote Gomer a traffic ticket for making an unauthorized U-turn in downtown Mayberry. After issuing the citation, Barney returned to the squad car and, immediately, made the same U-turn that earned Gomer a ticket. Gomer stood in the middle of the street and yelled “citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest” resulting in a crowd surrounding him with Gomer shouting that Barney should receive the same fine as imposed on him.
To defuse the situation and avoid further harsh words, Andy suggested that Barney simply write himself a ticket, pay the $5 fine and get along with his life. After much cajoling by Andy, Barney wrote the ticket but then announced that he would not pay the $5 fine. Instead he would take the alternative punishment of 5 days in the jail cell, which happened to be in the same room as the Sheriff’s office.
Barney’s problem was that he could not see his own wrongdoing when he was so focused on Gomer’s infraction.
How often we are in the same situation. Something is alright for me to do but I will criticize you for doing the same thing. It is human nature, we want to be better than others; even if it means that we ignore our own errors, which often are the more egregious.
Jesus told a parable about judging others in Matthew 7:1-5. The parable is likely one that you have heard before.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 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? 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? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Interestingly, there are various words for what is in the eye of the accuser: specifically, it is called a beam, a plank, a board, and a log. Whatever translation you may be using, the truth is the same. Before advising someone of their own misbehavior, the speck, the accuser must take note of and remove the beam/plank/board/log from their own life.
The parable teaches us how to conduct ourselves with reference to our perceived faults of others. The story was spoken to the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus encountered during His ministry. But the lesson taught applies to us as well – to those who are rigid and severe, who condemn people around them and who are proud and conceited in justifying their own actions.
Jesus cautions us against judging others. We are to judge ourselves, our own acts, but we must not judge others. And, we must not speak evil of others.
“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. “
We must not judge the hearts of others, nor their intentions – that is God’s prerogative.
“If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.”
Only God knows what is in the heart of man. Remember, the thieves on the cross were suffering the same punishment as our Lord Jesus Christ. While on the cross, one received Jesus through faith in Him and the other rejected Him. God knows who His children are, and He knows when any person will be brought into His family. We do not have such knowledge.
Why follow Jesus command not to judge? So that we will not be judged. In other words, if we presume to judge others, we may expect to be ourselves judged. If we are modest and charitable in our censures of others, and decline judging them, and judge ourselves rather, we shall not be judged. As God will forgive those that forgive their brothers, the merciful shall find mercy. Our refusal to judge others is an evidence of humility, charity and deference to God and shall be noted and rewarded by God accordingly. Romans 14:10
Don’t focus on correcting someone over a small fault while you have a big fault that you are ignoring. Have you ever noticed that it is common for those who are most sinful themselves, and least sensitive to it, to be the most forward and free in judging and censuring others?
For example, read 2 Samuel 12:1-7 and see the story of the prophet of God, Nathan, confronting King David over his sin with Bathsheba. David “burned with anger” at the man in Nathan’s story who had taken another man’s little lamb. It was then that Nathan pointed his finger at the King and said: “You are the man!”.
Jesus said the right way to interact with others is for me to take the beam out of my eye first. I must repent and correct my sin first and then I can help my brother or sister.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
This is a short part of the episode described above. To see the entire sequence of events, you can view the longer 5 minute segment of the television show by clicking on the top left box, after this 20 second segment is completed. Note that viewing the longer segment will take you out of The Ruminant Scribe website.
Father, I pray that I would have the wisdom to see the log in my own eye rather than focusing on the speck in my neighbor’s eye. Heal me and let me lead a life that is in conformance with the commands of my Lord and Savior, in the Name of Jesus I pray.