Starting on page 224 of The Divine Conspiracy, Willard takes to task common perspectives on Matthew 7:3-4, about removing the plank from one’s own eye before picking the speck from your friend’s eye. We are all sinners, so we all have planks in our eye. But then, can we never judge another person’s sin? Is this the “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” routine? No! “Getting the board out is not a matter of correcting something that is wrong in our life so that we will be able to condemn our dear ones… more effectively.” The plank in our eye is condemnation, which has no place in the righteous man’s heart. We are called, however, to another kind of “judging,” more akin to a dentist’s appraisal of our gums, teeth, and dental hygiene. “He is discerning, seeing and saying what is.” The motivation for discerning how things are in others’ lives must always be love, and our immediate goal must be redemption, not condemnation. “But that is a complicated task at best: not only because we may not know how to do it… but also because those we appraise may not know how to take our appraisal in any other way than as an attack on their person.” Proverbs 9:8 reads: “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you for it.” Do you rebuke with love, or do you condemn? Do you accept rebuke as assistance toward Christlikeness, or do you take it as an attack on your person?

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