Splinters, Beams, Pride, and Deceit

Prov 12:20 and Prov 13:10

Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:1-6

This has been a very difficult sermon – It started with praying over Prov. 12:20 and thinking through this verse from a very different perspective than I have in the past.

I used to read it as people who have evil thoughts are deceivers.  But that is not always true.  Some are just straight out evil. Up front about it.

I then started to think about how I think and feel about those whom I perceive as doing wrong (imagine evil about)  I Cor 13:5 says God’s kind of love thinketh or imagines no evil.  Gives the benefit of the doubt to the person I think is being and doing wrong.

The first reason this message is hard for me is that I would like to think that my thoughts about your wrongs and wrongdoings are right and justified.  Deceit – Deceiving my self.   We forget what Prov. 3:5 says.  “Lean not unto thine own understanding”.  You do not have enough facts to form a judgment about anyone’s motives. (including your own)  In Corinthians Paul says we know no body after the flesh. 2 Cor. 5:16

The 2nd reason this message is hard is that the concepts we are going to look at are hard to grasp. Hard to explain. I really wanted a story to do this. Think of king Saul, David loved his King.  Fought for him and yet Saul was so envious of David that he was sure David wanted his throne for himself – imagined evil. And Saul deceived himself that he was ok, and that He could defy God’s plan.  That David was the problem,  THAT HE COULD SOLVE THE PROBLEM HIMSELF.   

But lets assume that David was not perfect (and he was not). At one point he associated himself with the Philistines and thought to fight Saul with them.  Prov. 12:20 does not say “imaginary”; to imagine evil does not mean the evil does not exist in the other person.  In Matthew 7:5 there really is a mote and splinter in the brother’s eye.  TURN THERE. Matthew 7:1-6  The deceit comes from the pride in my own heart that allows and permits me to focus on the wrong in you; rather than to nurture and encourage you to walk with Christ.  The deceit is to think that I have the answer to your problems and that I can fix them – especially while I am missing and ignoring the obvious beam in my eye. 

The deceit is also to think that my own beam is really just a splinter. “Well, I know that I am not perfect, who is.”

You see, whether or not the evil is real or not, Prov. 13:10 is true. “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” 

“Only by” means “only by”  if there is contention in your heart or with a brother it is always because of pride.  In my research – as I was surprised at how many commentators tried to find a way around this “only by”.

They came up with things that in the end all said – “Except when you’re right.”  And then would clarify that “right about truth”. More harm has been done in the name of being right then for any other reason. 

There seems to be more pride in churches and in church members than anywhere else in the world.  When I was younger – I knew I was right and you had to listen to me.  THAT DID NOT TURN OUT VERY WELL.  NEVER DOES.   I now know the one who is right and delight in taking you to him.  And he will correct us both together.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto your own understanding.”  You have one and THAT IS GOOD.  But don’t think so highly of your understanding that you want to contend over it.  I know what Jude 3 says – it does not mean pick a fight over the way you understand the Bible.  What it means is a different message, but remember how Michael was careful in disputing with the devil.  To contend for the faith is to live what you claim to believe. Humility, Faith, patience. God’s sovereign control over events and people and things.

“Only by pride cometh contention.”

“Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil.”  Proverbs 13:10 contrast pride/contention with well advised/wisdom.

One of the greatest passages in the Bible on this is James 3:17.  “but the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated (easily talked to – does not give the silent treatment, does not put out negative vibes)  Proverbs 13:10 calls this “well advised”.  Full of mercy, and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  The well advised take correction and reproof well.

If your only solution to problems is contention and strife – you do not have heavenly wisdom.  Take the time to read James 3:13-16 as it describes earthly wisdom.

Turn back to Matthew 7:1-6  Here is a man who has judged a brother (v.3) to have a problem that must be dealt with – God calls it a mote – speck – a splinter.  The brother may not even know it is there.  But most people  WHEN THEY KNOW THEY HAVE A SPECK IN THEIR EYE feel the irritation and want it dealt with. But they don’t want it dealt with by a person who can not see – who has a beam in their own eye.  That is down right terrifying.

(A) People are blind. They see almost everything wrong, because their own “beams” destroy objectivity.  And Pride is deceptive.  It makes you think you have no beams (blindness)  John 9 :40 and 41 “And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words and said unto him, Are we blind also?  Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin! (it is a legitimate excuse if you are really blind) But now ye say, we see (deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil) therefore your sin remaineth.”

There is something basically wrong with the eye of flesh – Flesh blinds us to the truth.  Jesus recognized this in his own humility.  Turn to Isaiah 11:2-3  This is a prophesy concerning Jesus coming to earth in 3 BC. Because the flesh is insufficient, that it is a veil or curtain that keeps us from seeing the truth (Heb. 10:20). Again, because the flesh is insufficient Jesus himself was given the “Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and fear of the LORD: and …. End of v. 3…. He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.”

(B)  Pride may instead of giving you the thought you have no beam – it may give your permission to excuse and justify your beam.  THAT IS YOU HAVE BEEN DECEIVED INTO THINKING THAT AN EXCUSE IS PERMISSION TO IGNORE YOUR BEAM AND POKE SOMEONE ELSE IN THE EYE!

It goes like this, my injury, my want not being met, justifies my lack of love and forgiveness to you.”  “Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil.” And IT IS EVIL TO PUT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MY FAILURE TO LOVE YOU AND FORGIVE YOU, ON YOU.  Matthew 7:11 says “If ye, then, being evil….”


Turn back to Matthew 7   In v. 6 do you see that phrase “neither cast your pearls before swine.”  Your pearls are the fruit of God’s grace on your own specks and beams of irritation.  That is how pearls are formed.  Irritants being dealt with by the grace of God.  And my specks and your specks are irritants. Just ask those who live with us.  And a pearl is a beautiful thing.

Let’s tie this with Prov. 13:10 Pride makes me irritating to self and others.  “But with the well advised, that is those who have continually received the grace of “reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness” is wisdom.”   NOT IRRITATING.

It is so easy as a Christian – one who knows a lot of truth to think it is ok to poke people in the eye while blindfolded to my own faults.  It is not only easy – it is common!

In Isaiah 42:2-3 You see the results of this in Jesus Christ.  “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. (not calling attention to what he sees and hears – his opinions – not about him) A bruised reed (people with motes in their eye) shall he not break, and a smoking flax (people going toward the great physician) shall he not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”  This is actually quite wonderful – He accomplishes all that he thought should be accomplished – yet without deceit and pride – without poking people in the eye.

We Pastors have a dangerous platform to work from.  Are we willing to admit that the flesh blinds us and limits us in our ability to help people? Are we willing to let God’s spirit work through the truth of God’s word?