Matthew 7:5-6

Setting and Overview
Matthew 7:5-6 provide a critical, but difficult exhortation for us, which demonstrates how important the first four verses of Matthew 7 are. Judging and addressing sin in the proper way is almost always more difficult than the alternatives, and so we will face numerous temptations to take the easy way out as we encounter sin in others. We are often frustrated, discouraged, hurt, and feel powerless. As we grow in our knowledge of Scripture, we can be tempted to use that our purpose, as a means to gain power, authority, and respect. In our pride and selfishness, we think that we are more knowledgeable and righteous than we really are, that we deserve more than we do, and that we thus have every right to seek our own benefit. We do not have that right, however, but instead have an obligation, and we must see how we are commanded to do that well.
 
Exposition
Even as we seek to move away from judgmentalism, we are challenged to nevertheless still ceaselessly judge rightly (Ephesians 5:6-11) so that we might ceaselessly edify effectively (I Thessalonians 5:11-15, Romans 15:1-7.) Matthew 7:5 tells us that begins with addressing our own sin. That does not mean that we have to be perfect before we can call out sin in others, but it does tell us to humbly examine ourselves, identify and confess our sin, and work to address it. These steps can be most effectively done with the help of others (setting up the reason for the second exhortation in this verse), which means that we must have the humility to confess our sins to each other and allow others to admonish and build us up as well.
Once we have removed the log from our eye, then we can remove the speck from another. Verses 1-5 specify that this is done for other Christians, so this is not an action we take with non-Christians in the same way. We may at times still be able to address the physical or mental components of sin with them, but we do not address the core spiritual component in the same way. Instead, we first seek to share the Gospel with them both in how we interact (I Peter 3:15-16, II Timothy 2:24-26) and by explicitly proclaiming it whenever possible. However, verse 6 also reminds us that there are times when sharing the Gospel might do more damage than good. When one has displayed clear inability to understand or respond to the Gospel and hostility toward it (I Corinthians 2:13-16), then just repeating the Gospel without discernment is of no help and likely could cause further issues (Matthew 15:14, Acts 18:5.)
We specifically then are to focus on times when we not only encounter Christians in sin, but specifically those who we are in a position to correct gently (Galatians 6:1) and who are in need of the edification that we are seeking to offer (Ephesians 4:29.) In those situations we should first verify our understanding of the situation (James 1:19), pray (James 5:16), mourn that sin and our own (Matthew 5:4), and then admonish (I Thessalonians 5:14) in a way that is grounded in Scripture (II Timothy 3:16-4:2), demonstrates our love for them (John 13:34-35), that is patient, and gives comfort and help when needed (I Thessalonians 5:14.) At all times, our correction should pass the test: is my love for God and others evident in what I am saying and doing?

Examination and Application
If we are willing to commit to the exhortations in Scripture for gentle and loving correction, then we will be able to be salt and light in the way that Matthew 5:13-16 commands. That is the picture that we see in Ephesians 4:12-16, Romans 15:1-7, and I Thessalonians 5:14: a church that is committed to building each other up, speaking the truth in love, holding uncompromisingly to the truth, while reflecting the love and mercy of God in our interactions. That is a church that can make disciples, even in the most difficult of environments.
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