Spray Early

We often don’t pay enough attention to how familiar passages are juxtaposed. Take, for example, a short chain of passages in Luke 6.

A disciple when fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). Don’t try to take a speck out of your brother’s eye when you have a railroad tie in your own (Luke 6:41-42). And good trees bear good fruit, while bad trees bear bad fruit (Luke 6:43-45).

A disciple learns from his teacher by means of imitation. But imitation is meant to train us in righteousness. When it has gone wrong, the mimetic eye is provoked by envy and jealousy, and makes us notice the minor faults of others while missing the major faults that we have. This happens, this evil fruit comes to harvest, because a disciple copies only the externals and competes against the faults he sees. He does not copy the heart of righteousness, which makes the whole thing a grand exercise in missing the point.

The main thing to notice here is that Jesus is identifying the tendency to see your own faults as small and the faults of others as big as hypocrisy — this tendency is indeed the ground and foundation of all hypocrisies. Hypocrisy wells up from within the heart of an evil man, not a good man. A good man with a good fruit tree does this tendency within himself, but he always sprays for pests early.

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