Young man seated with head down in shame

Mirror? Or Magnifying Glass?


The Parable Of The Speck And The Plank Of Wood

Matthew 7:1-5

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Young man seated with head down in shameJesus has a way of using things that are familiar to teach spiritual principles that are often uncomfortable.  And this is one of them.  A speck.  A log.  An obvious overstatement.  Couldn’t Have just used words such as a pebble and a rock, or a speck of dust and a speck of sawdust?  But Jesus chose to use two extremes:  the smallest visible fragment of wood, and the largest processed wooden board.

So, He wasn’t only teaching that the disciples should not “judge” others for what’s in their eye.  But they must also recognize the proclivity to seeing their what’s in their neighbor’s eye as exponentially larger and more harmful than what’s in their own.

Why A Speck?

Jesus is a master of the metaphor.  It’s absolutely no coincidence that “speck” was His word of choice.  Apparently that image must have great significance to the story.

So, let’s think about what Jesus might have had in mind in the use of the word speck:

  • Small and not visible to anyone other than the person themself.
  • Not threatening to the well being of the person’s eye.
  • Easily removed and cleansed.
  • Will eventually be forgotten.

One might conclude that the speck implies that the one doing the judging, although not implying they don’t have any issues, only sees their wrong as small, unintentional, and easily remedied.

Why A Plank?

In contrasting the speck with the image of a “plank,” Jesus uses hyperbole to make a crucial point.  It’s no surprise to any of us that a plank will not fit into a human eye.  So then why the use of that in the story?

  • Very large and visible to everyone.
  • Present in the person’s eye as a result of their own actions or choices.
  • Even if removed, likely will leave a lasting visible scar.
  • Makes the person vulnerable to being shamed, rejected, or abandoned.

When a person has, or has a history of having had, a plank in their eye, there is always a quiet voice paying in the background of their mind, reminding them of the emotional pain and shame of their past experiences.  For another person to identity or focus on the plank merely adds further shame to the woundedness they already carry.

More To The Story?

As a Christ-centered counselor and an individual who has been on a journey of soul healing for over three decades, I sense that Jesus may have used the parable to present a much deeper message:  Deal with the shame and brokenness in your own life rather than pretending it’s small and not affecting you.  And have grace for your neighbor – no matter the size of the plank in their eye –  so as to not add to these shame and brokenness in their heart.


Soul health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated.  Our counselors are ordained Christian ministers as well as certified and licensed Christian counselors.  We are able to help you experience freedom from shame, anxietydepression, or marriage / relationship conflict with methods that are purely Christ-centered.  Please click on this link to learn much more about how our DEPRESSION COUNSELING can help you become a more authentic follower of Christ, and help you find freedom from identity dependence.

Life Training offers convenient sessions at our office in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as online counseling via Zoom or FaceTime.  Our non-profit counseling practice has had an outstanding track record from over a decade helping men and women, individuals and couples who are ready to move beyond anxietydepression, and conflicts in marriage or other relationships find hope and healing in their lives.  Contact us today at 502-717-5433, or by email at

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