Vol.XX No.II Pg.3
April 1983

Mote Hunting

Dan S. Shipley

In His condemnation of hypocritical judging, Jesus speaks of one who beholds the mote in another's eye, but fails to consider the beam in his own eye (Matt. 7:3). What unusual moral vision! When focused outwardly it is able to discern the tiniest speck; yet, when looking inwardly, it cannot discern what should be most obvious. Our Lord is, of course, pointing up the need for self-discipline ("cast out first the beam out of thine own eye," v.5) — and what a tremendously important lesson it is! But what He touches on in only an incidental way in this context may be worthy of further consideration too; namely, mote beholding.

Obviously, the act of mote beholding, in itself, is not wrong for it is simply the act of perceiving or seeing the "mote," whatever it might be. When this occurs, providing we have de-beamed ourselves, we can help ("see clearly") to cast out the mote from our brother's eye. If, however, we are not careful, the mote beholding easily deteriorates into mote hunting; i.e., looking for fault in others, especially with a view to hurting or discrediting in some way. The Christian who deliberately looks for something to criticize in another has, in that disposition alone, a personal "beam" in his own eye that needs beholding and casting out. Lamentably, mote hunting is more popular than beam hunting. No doubt, if there were more of the latter there would be less of the former. But, such is not the case and, in fact, it often appears that some have declared open-season for mote hunting.

Take, for instance, many of the written debates, exchanges, reviews, reviews of reviews, exposes, and the like, of recent years. It is not unusual to see the obvious intent and meaning of an action or argument ignored in a painstaking and tedious effort to search out some trifling innuendo to be used against the opposition. If one is suspicioned to have certain "leanings," his every statement is carefully scrutinized — not for objective evaluation, but for "evidence" with which to blast him! If nothing of an incriminating nature is obvious, the mote hunter can always read between the lines and find something with which to jump to an unwarranted conclusion. The mote hunter's inferences have a way of being translated into his opponents "position." Whether real or imagined, every mote is likely to be magnified to "beam" proportions. But, such mote hunting and exploiting is by no means limited to writers and debaters.

In fact, most of us have likely indulged in the practice to some extent. Ill-will, prejudice, and envy (things to which we are all susceptible) can easily send us on a mote hunt if we are not careful. If one has wronged us, we are inclined to search out and exploit the "motes" of his conduct and speech. Even the slightest conflict or controversy can motivate mote hunting. And when brethren start looking for and advertising the bad in each other, look out! You will see just what we are seeing in many places today: hate, enmity, strife, and division such as cripple the cause of Christ.

The answer? “Love suffereth long, is kind, envieth not, thinketh no evil, beareth all things.”