And why behold you the mote that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?…
It is plain that our Lord's figure is paradoxical. Beams of wood in eyes is quite an impossible conception; and when he spoke of it it must have caused a smile. With a curious realism, the old Bible picture represents a man with a long beam of wood, standing straight out from his eye, and unsupported. Our Lord's teachings require to be read with our faculty of imagination in healthy activity. Probably in this case our Lord used a familiar Jewish proverb, which satirized men's readiness to espy small faults in others while they overlook large ones in themselves. Note that ophthalmia is very prevalent in the East, caused by the ],articles floating in the dry atmosphere. The similar rabbinical saying is thus given: "I wonder if there is any one in this generation who would take reproof. It one said, ' Take the mote out of thine eye,' he would answer, ' Take the beam 'from out of thine own eye.'"
I. HONEST SELF-ESTIMATES ARE DIFFICULT TO MAKE. Burns writes -
"O wad some power the giftie gie us,
To see oursels as others see us:" But just that power is generally lacking. We all think we know other people well; we all, in fact, know ourselves most imperfectly. Many a man has been humiliatingly surprised to discover that the fault which he most blamed, and had least mercy on, in others, was his own characteristic failing. The inscription may be put on the Greek temple, "Know thyself;" but that is precisely what the people, who walk the pavements below, are not interested in doing. We all prefer to keep our self-delusions concerning our own excellences. A man must deal resolutely with himself who means to know the truth about himself. Honest self-estimates prove
(3) they culture gentleness and charity toward others.
Every man has his failing - his "beam in the eye."
II. HONEST SELF-ESTIMATES ARE INFLUENTIAL WHEN MADE. What our Lord intimates is that, if a man discovers his own beam, he will be so concerned about it, and so busy over it, that he will pay no particular attention to his neighbour's mote. And if it should come to be his duty to point out that mote, he will remember that is is but a mote in comparison with his own beam. The man who sees his own sin aright, and reads it in the light of its inspiring motives, can never see his brother's sin to be as big as his own. "Men who see into their neighbours are very apt to be contemptuous;" that is, when the feeling of their own beam does not hopefully influence their vision. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?