“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3–5 NLT)
Physician, heal yourself. This phrase that Jesus quotes to the skeptics of Nazareth in Luke 4 is a quick summation of his teaching in this passage from the Sermon on the Mount. It’s difficult to preach to others a Gospel of peace, wholeness, and completeness in Christ when we are still struggling to grasp those things for ourselves. That’s not to say we need to be perfect before we can go out into the world in the name of Jesus; if that were true, none of us would ever be free to leave our homes. Rather, Jesus is reminding us that we must not forget our own spiritual formation even as we seek to spur on and aid that same formation in those around us.
This is why we continually refer to the NAB being on a missional/formational movement. These are not two separate concepts that have been joined into one; these are two sides of the same coin. To be formed into the image of Christ is a necessary part of being on mission with God in our neighborhoods and communities. What good are we for helping our friend with the speck in their eye if we have neglected to take care of the log in our own? Yet too often we attempt to be a good neighbor by offering to mow their lawn when our front yard is better described as a jungle.
More often than we’d like to admit, the vices or flaws we see most glaring in others are the very things we struggle with ourselves. We are the liar who has trust issues, or the card cheat who can’t believe the luck of the other players. Using this as a starting point – thinking about the flaws in others that you get hung up on – examine your heart to discern where God is ready to help transform you more and more into the image of Christ so that in turn you might be better able to preach the Good News of the transforming power of the Spirit to others.