“Why is it that you see the dust in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but you can’t see what is in your own eye? Don’t ignore the wooden plank in your eye, while you criticize the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eyelashes. That type of criticism and judgment is a sham! Remove the plank from your own eye, and then perhaps you will be able to see clearly how to help your brother flush out his sawdust.” (Jesus, Mt. 7:3-5 VOICE)
A doctor doesn’t do surgery when she can’t see her hands or her instruments or the patient clearly. A chef doesn’t cook blindfolded. A carpenter won’t use a power saw without eye protection that keeps his eyes safe and his vision unobscured.
The plank is obscuring your vision. So don’t try to delicately remove a tiny speck from the eye of your neighbor.
But how often do we behave as though our plank-filled vision is totally clear? We get so used to the plank being there that it’s almost like it’s always been there, like that’s actually part of our character and not something to be removed. We start to act like plank-eye is a normal part of our biology. Some of us even start celebrating our planks (“diversity!”). And then, we try to remove specks from the eyes of those around us as if they can’t see properly, even though our plank-eyed extension does far more damage as it swings into the face of the person in front of us (despite the fact that until now they’ve generously refrained from pointing out our planks; we seem so proud of them).
The first step to recovery is actually admitting the presence of a plank and the necessity of its removal.
Fast-forward to the moment the plank is gone, your vision clear. Think of all the things you learned along the way about plank removal. You’ve learned about yourself, the anatomy of planks and eyes, the way planks get into eyes (maybe they start as specks and then grow), surgical techniques that take time with careful, precise movements. Recovery techniques from surgery and healing balms for plank-removal scars. Maybe you practiced on a lot of dummy-eyes, because you wanted to get it just right when you did it on your own, irreplaceable eye. And then you succeeded! The plank was liberated, its weight gone from your head, leaving a freedom you hadn’t imagined possible!
Now imagine, if you have learned all that about how to remove that plank from your own eye, how much humility have you learned through the experience of removing the plank from your eye? How much more empathy do you have for those with a speck in theirs?
And could it mean that you could now teach another person how to remove the speck from his eye for real?