Today would probably be a good day to begin with my occasional disclaimer: The thoughts on this blog are mine. They are neither the thoughts nor opinions of Ebenezer Baptist Church. And I am imperfect. I make mistakes (Gasp … I know. But it’s true). I am human, not cyborg (although I have looked into preserving my brain after I die!!)
This morning I was reading a passage of scripture. One that I’ve read and preached many times before. One of the things I like about using technology is the fact that I can look a passage up on my iPad or on certain websites, then change the Bible version, and instantly see it from another point of view. For some unknown reason I decided to look this passage up in The Message.
The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible published by NavPress in the mid-1990s. I am not typically fond of paraphrases and will rarely quote one when preaching because I like a word-for-word translation. But when I read this one, although it is definitely not a word-for-word, it speaks to me. It reminds me of the heart intent of what Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount.
In the NIV, the words of Jesus from Matthew 7:1-5 read like this:
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “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? 4 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? 5 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.
Jesus is pretty clear … The way we judge others is EXACTLY how we will be judged. That convicts me deeply. But I have never seen anyone with a “plank” sticking out of his eye. Now, mind you, I’m sure there have been times when I’ve had one. But literally, the only plank I’ve ever seen sticking out of anyone in the past few years was the one sticking out of Bill Watkins’ hand a few weeks ago. If you want to see it, just ask him: He’ll show you the pictures!!
NOW … when I read this in The Message, here is what I found:
1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
WOW!! That rips me to the core!! Because I’ve never literally had a plank in my eye, but I’ve had sneers on my face. Many times. And I think The Message really schooled me this morning on the intent of Matthew 7:1-5.
So, paraphrases are NOT ALL BAD. Especially when you realize you are not reading a word-for-word translation. They can still speak to God’s heart intent for His word.
Excuse me now while I go check the mirror …