“Jason” came to church one Wednesday night. He didn’t grow up going to church, and as a 19-year-old he was still trying to figure out how to do this whole Christian thing. He came to know Jesus just a few months before. One thing was pretty important, though. Jason knew that you always wear a suit and tie to church even on Wednesday nights. As he walked inside the building, the pastor approached him. He glanced up at Jason’s hair, and without a trace of humor in his voice, demanded, “Jason, what’s with the hair? You trying to look like a rockstar or something?”
The Christian Logging Industry: Hairstyles, Hypocrisy, and How to Fix It
Apparently, Jason hadn’t quite cut it. His hair—somehow longer than ordinary, or styled with an edgy flair—didn’t meet the Christian standard. To the pastor, this was something that needed to be dealt with. New Christians shouldn’t look like rockstars (rockstars are, of course, next of kin to the devil). Jason’s biggest issue wasn’t his need to grow as a new believer. His biggest issue was to externally conform head-to-toe with all the idiosyncratic hangups and fixations in little empire over which his pastor reigned. Jason needed to fix his hair.
Thankfully, Jason did grow. And thankfully, after graciously sharing his concerns with the pastor, left that church. Today, Jason is training for the ministry, and has a well-managed faux hawk.
What does all this have to do with logging?
Jesus on the Logging Industry
It goes back to something that Jesus said in one of His first major sermons, the Sermon on the Mount. He used the log analogy to illustrate a point. You’ll probably recognize the passage (Matthew 7:1-5). Jesus asked, “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?”
Think about that. It’s ludicrous! Picture two people. One guy has a little piece of sawdust floating around his eye. (I know, it can be annoying.) The other guy has a log—yeah, like real log—jutting out of his eyeball. That’s not just gross; that’s downright preposterous. Now, in an unbelievable twist to the already-ridiculous comparison, watch what happens. The guy with the plank in his eye, offers to remove the trace of sawdust from the other guy’s eye. In other words, man-with-board-in-eyeball turns to man-with-dust-in-eyeball, and says, “Hey, it looks like you’ve got a speck of something in your eye; here, I’ll try to get it out for you.”
Talk about an eye-opening analogy. It’s so outrageous that it almost makes me smirk.
And then I cringe.
Jesus Is Talking about Me
Jesus is not cracking jokes. He’s making a serious point. His next words are, “You hypocrite.” That’s not a humorous quip. That’s a serious charge. The man-with-board-in-eyeball is me or you anytime we judge another brother for something nonessential, insignificant, or unnecessary. We’re hypocrites. Jesus did not have a very flattering view of hypocrites. In another passage, he said, “You…hypocrites!…Within [you] are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy” (Matthew 23:27-28). Jesus goes on the offensive toward hypocritical, religious people who have the hubris to remove a speck of sawdust from a brother’s eye, while neglecting the two-by-four sticking out of their own face.
Sorting Out Logs from Sawdust
It seems that we Christians are running a regular logging industry. We’re dedicated to judgmentalism. But what are boards and what are specks? It is customary to think that the board in the eye is a sin problem that we have to remove before we can judge others. That’s not what the passage is saying. Jesus says, “Don’t judge” (Matthew 7:1). We do not remove our board so we can judge. The board in our eye is our sin of judging other people. Jesus does not say, “Remove the plank and then judge your brother.” No, he says, “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. When we do not judge our brother, we are able to see clearly, to love truly, and to take the speck out of his eye. We are commanded to remove the log of judgmentalism from our eye.
Can you imagine the kinds of things that would change if we stopped judging brothers? Blogs would go quiet. Fewer books would be published. Preachers would yell less. Church splits would decline. Wow. It would really change some things.
Seven Things You Shouldn’t Judge People On
You’d think that it would be pretty easy to figure out what issues are sawdust issues. Allow me to help, and suggest some things that are off-limits when it comes to judging your brother. These are, at best, sawdust issues.
- Music preferences
- Body piercing
Judgmentalism declines when we focus on the gospel. When we allow the big issues to be big issues, our petty idée fixes will disappear. My goal in this article is not to promote more bickering and infighting (lest one of the seven deadly sins listed above concerns you) but to emphasize Jesus’ teaching. Loving our brother does not mean judging our brother. You are free to hold your convictions with humility (Romans 14:5), but please refuse to participate in the sinful, damaging, kingdom-tearing practice of judgmentalism. Let’s be done with it. Let’s focus on the gospel.