Luke 6:41
And why behold you the mote that is in your brother's eye, but perceive not the beam that is in your own eye?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(41) And why beholdest thou . .?—See Notes on Matthew 7:4. The two reports of the proverb agree almost verbally, as if its repetition had impressed it deeply on the minds of the hearers.

Luke

THREE CONDENSED PARABLES

Luke 6:41 - Luke 6:49
.

Three extended metaphors, which may almost be called parables, close Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, and constitute this passage. These are the mote and the beam, the good and bad trees, the houses on the rock and on the sand. Matthew puts the first of these earlier in the sermon, and connects it with other precepts about judging others. But whichever order is the original, that adopted by Luke has a clear connection of thought underlying it which will come out as we proceed.

I. The striking and somewhat ludicrous image of the beam and the mote is found in Rabbinical writings, and may have been familiar to Christ’s hearers.

But His use of it is deeper and more searching than the rabbis’ was. He has just been speaking of blind guides and their blind followers. That ‘parable,’ as Luke calls it, naturally images another defect which may attach to the eye. A man may be partly blind because some foreign body has got in. If we might suppose a tacit reference to the Pharisees in the blind guides, their self-complacent censoriousness would be in view here; but the application of the saying is much wider than to them only.

Verse 41 teaches that the accurate measurement of the magnitude of our own failings should precede our detection of our brother’s. Christ assumes the commonness of the opposite practice by asking ‘why’ it is so. And we have all to admit that the assumption is correct. The keenness of men’s criticism of their neighbour’s faults is in inverse proportion to their familiarity with their own. It is no unusual thing to hear some one, bedaubed with dirt from head to foot, declaiming with disgust about a speck or two on his neighbour’s white robes.

Satan reproving sin is not an edifying sight, but Satan criticising sin is still less agreeable. If only ‘he that is without sin among you’ would fling stones, there would be fewer reputations pelted than there are. Most men know less about their own faults than about their brother’s. They use two pairs of spectacles-one which diminishes, and is put on for looking at themselves; one which magnifies, and is worn for their neighbour’s benefit. But when their respective good qualities are to be looked at, the other pair is used in each case. That is men’s way, all the world over.

Christ’s question asks the reason for this all but universal dishonesty of having two weights and measures for faults. He would have us ponder on the cause, that we may discover the remedy. He would have us reflect, that we may get a vivid conviction of the unreasonableness of the practice. There is nothing in the fact that a fault is mine which should make it small in my judgment; nor, on the other hand, in the accident that it is another’s, which should make it seem large. A fault is a fault, whoever it belongs to, and we should judge ourselves and others by the same rule. Only we should be most severe in its application to ourselves, for we cannot tell how much our brother has had, to diminish the criminality of his sin, and we can tell, if we will be honest, how much we have had, to aggravate that of ours. So the conscience of a true Christian works as Paul’s did when he said ‘Of whom I am chief,’ and is more disposed to make its own motes into beams than to censure its brother’s.

The reason, so far as there is a reason, can only lie in our diseased selfishness, which is the source of all sin. And the blindness to our ‘beams’ is partly produced by their very presence. All sin blinds conscience. A man with a beam in his eye would not be able to see much. One device of sin, practised in order to withdraw the doer’s attention from his own deed, is to make him censorious of his fellows, and to compound for the sins he is inclined to by condemning other people’s.

Luke 6:42 teaches that the conquest of our own discovered evils must precede efficient attempts to cure other people’s. To pose as a curer of them while we are ignorant of our own faults is, consciously or unconsciously, hypocrisy, for it assumes a hatred of evil, which, if genuine, would have found first a field for its working in ourselves. An oculist with diseased eyes would not be likely to be a successful operator. ‘Physician, heal thyself’ would fit him well, and be certainly flung at him. A cleansed eye will see the brother’s mote clearly, but only in order to help its extraction. It is a delicate bit of work to get it out, and needs a gentle hand.

Our discernment of others’ faults must be compassionate, not to be followed by condemnation nor self-complacency but by loving efforts to help to a cure. And such will not be made unless we have learned our own sinfulness, and can go to the wrongdoer in brotherly humility, and win him to use the ‘eye-salve’ which our conduct shows has healed us.

II. The second compressed parable of the two trees springs from the former naturally, as stating the general law of which Luke 6:42 gives one case, namely, that good deeds {such as casting out the mote} can only come from a good heart {made good by confession of its own evils and their ejection}.

It is often said that Christ’s teaching is unlike that of His Apostles in that He places stress on works, and says little of faith. But how does He regard works? As fruits. That is to say, they are of value in His eyes only as being products and manifestations of character. He does not tell us in this parable how the character which will effloresce in blossoms and set in fruits of goodness is produced. That comes in the next parable. But here is sufficiently set forth the great central truth of Christian ethics that the inward disposition is the all-important thing, and that deeds are determined as to their moral quality by the character from which they have proceeded.

Our actions are our self-revelations. The words are not to be pressed, as if they taught the entire goodness of one class of men, so that all their acts were products of their good character, nor the unmingled evil of another, so that no good of any kind or in any degree is in them or comes from them. They must be read as embodying a general truth which is not as yet fully exemplified in any character or conduct.

In Luke 6:45 the same idea is presented under a different figure-that of a wealthy man who brings his possessions out of his store-house. The application of the figure is significantly varied so as to include the other great department of human activity. Speech is act. It, too, will be according to the cast of the inner life. Of course, feigned speech of all sorts is not in view. The lazy judgment of men thinks less of words than of deeds. Christ always attaches supreme importance to them. Intentional lying being excluded, speech is an even more complete self-revelation than act. When one thinks of the floods of foul or idle or malicious talk which half drown the world as being revelations of the sort of hearts from which they have gushed, one is appalled. What a black, seething fountain that must be which spurts up such inky waters!

III. The third parable, of the two houses, shows in part how hearts may be made ‘good.’

It is attached to the preceding by Luke 6:46. Speech does not always come from ‘the abundance of the heart.’ Many call Him Lord who do not act accordingly. Deeds must confirm words. If the two diverge, the latter must be taken as the credible self-revelation. Now the first noticeable thing here is Christ’s bold assumption that His words are a rock foundation for any life. He claims to give an absolute and all-sufficient rule of conduct, and to have the right to command every man.

And people read such words and then talk about their Christianity not being the belief of His divinity, but the practice of the Sermon on the Mount! His words are the foundation for every firm, lasting life. They are the basis of all true thought about God, ourselves, our duties, our future. ‘That rock was Christ.’ Every other foundation is as sand. Unless we build on Him, we build on changeable inclinations, short-lived desires, transitory aims, evanescent circumstances. Only the Christ who ever liveth, and is ever ‘the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,’ is fit to be the foundation of lives that are to be immortal.

Note the two houses built on the foundations. The metaphor suggests that each life is a whole with a definite character. Alas, how many of our lives are liker a heap of stones tilted at random out of a cart than a house with a plan. But there is a character stamped on every life, and however the man may have lived from hand to mouth without premeditation, the result has a character of its own, be it temple or pig-sty. Each life, too, is built up by slow labour, course by course. Our deeds become our dwelling-places. Like coral-insects, we live in what we build. Memory, habit, ever-springing consequences, shape by slow degrees our isolated actions into our abodes. What do we build?

One storm tries both houses. That may refer to the common trials of every life, but it is best taken as referring to the future judgment, when God ‘will lay judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet’; and whatever cannot stand that test will be swept away. Who would run up a flimsy structure on some windy headland in northern seas? The lighthouses away out in ocean are firmly bonded into living rock. Unless our lives are thus built on and into Christ, they will collapse into a heap of ruin. ‘Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.’Luke 6:41-42. And why beholdest thou the mote — See notes on Matthew 7:3-5. Be not ye like the disciples of the Pharisees, censuring others, and not amending yourselves.6:37-49 All these sayings Christ often used; it was easy to apply them. We ought to be very careful when we blame others; for we need allowance ourselves. If we are of a giving and a forgiving spirit, we shall ourselves reap the benefit. Though full and exact returns are made in another world, not in this world, yet Providence does what should encourage us in doing good. Those who follow the multitude to do evil, follow in the broad way that leads to destruction. The tree is known by its fruits; may the word of Christ be so grafted in our hearts, that we may be fruitful in every good word and work. And what the mouth commonly speaks, generally agrees with what is most in the heart. Those only make sure work for their souls and eternity, and take the course that will profit in a trying time, who think, speak, and act according to the words of Christ. Those who take pains in religion, found their hope upon Christ, who is the Rock of Ages, and other foundation can no man lay. In death and judgment they are safe, being kept by the power of Christ through faith unto salvation, and they shall never perish.See the notes at Matthew 7:3-5.41-49. (See on [1589]Mt 7:3-5, [1590]Mt 7:16-27.) Ver. 41,42. See Poole on "Matthew 7:3", and following verses to Matthew 7:5. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye,.... A lesser sin in comparison of others; for all sins are not alike, as the Stoics asserted: and though none are to be countenanced and indulged, yet some are not so severely to be animadverted upon as others, the nature, occasions, circumstances, and aggravations considered; for no man is perfect, or wholly free from sin; nor are the words preceding to be understood of such a perfection; for which reason perhaps these words, with what follow, are mentioned:

but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? meaning a greater sin, such are guilty of, who are inquisitive searchers into the faults of others, and severe animadverters on them; and yet are blind to their own iniquities, and take no notice of them. These proverbial expressions were delivered by Christ on the mount, and are the same with those in Matthew 7:3. See Gill on Matthew 7:3. See Gill on Matthew 7:4. See Gill on Matthew 7:5.

{8} And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

(8) Hypocrites who are very severe reprehenders of others are very quick to spitefully spot other men's faults, but very blind to see their own.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 6:41-42. Luke is not, with confused reminiscence, turning back to Matthew 7:3 f. (in opposition to de Wette), but the train of thought is: “but in order not to be blind leaders of the blind ye must, before ye would judge (Luke 6:41) and improve (Luke 6:42) the moral condition of others, first seriously set about your own knowledge of yourself (Luke 6:41) and improvement of yourself (Luke 6:42).” Luke puts the two passages together, but he does it logically.Luke 6:41 introduces a thought which in Mt. stands in immediate connection with that in Luke 6:37 (Matthew 7:1-3). If the view of Luke 6:40, above suggested, be correct, then this and the next verses may also be understood as referring still to the relations between teacher and taught in the Church, rather than to the vices of the Pharisees, which in Lk.’s version of the sermon are very much left out of account. Censoriousness is apt to be a fault of young converts, and doubtless it was rife enough in the apostolic age. On the parable of the mote and the beam vide on Matthew 7:3-5.41. beholdest thou the mote] The hypocrite sees (blepei) at the slightest glance the mote in his brother’s eye; but not the most careful inspection enables him to observe (katanoein) the very obvious beam in his own eye. The word mote is in the original karphos, a stalk or chip, and this is also the idea of mote. Thus in Dutch mot is dust of wood; in Spanish mota is a flue on cloth.

the beam] The entire illustration is Jewish, and was used to express impatience of just reproof (Babha Bathra, f. 15. 2) so that ‘mote’ and ‘beam’ became proverbial for little and great faults. The proverb also implies, ‘How can you see others’ faults properly with a beam in the depth of your eye (ἔκβαλεἐκ, Matthew 7:5)? how dare you condemn when you are so much worse?’ Comp. Chaucer (Reeves Prologue),

“He can wel in myn eye see a stalke

But in his owne he can nought seen a balke.”Luke 6:41. Δὲ, but) But why dost thou, whereas a master ought to excel his disciple, wish to be master of him, to whom thou art even inferior? There ought to be not only vision in the eye, but also unimpeded vision.Verse 41. - And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? The thought-leaders of the day were in good truth hypocrites, proud, avaricious, in many cases self-indulgent, bigoted, and selfish; they were utterly unfit to be the moral teachers of the people - a position they had arrogated to themselves. The homely but well-known Jewish proverb of the mote and the beam picturesquely put before his listeners the position as it appeared to the Lord. The very defects among the people which the religious teachers professed to lecture upon and to discuss, disfigured and marred their own lives. They were - these priests and scribes and Pharisees - worse than self deceivers; they were religious hypocrites. The now famous illustration of the mote and the beam is, as has been said, purely Jewish, and was no doubt a familiar one to the people. It is found in the Talmud (treatise 'Bava Bathra' fol. 15. 2). Farrar quotes from Chaucer -

"He can wel in myn eye see a stalke,
But in his owne he can nought see a balke."
The word "mote" translates the Greek κάρφος, a chip. In Dutch mot is the dust of wood. In Spanish recta is the flue on cloth. Beholdest (βλέπεις) - considerest (κατανοεῖς) - mote (καρφος) - beam (δοκὸν)

See on Matthew 7:3.

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