Everyone believes that he has fully understood these simple words, and yet there will be but few who have grasped their actual meaning. It is one-sided and wrong to interpret this saying as if it were only meant to teach man to be lenient toward his neighbor. Leniency toward one’s neighbor will follow by itself as a natural consequence of experiencing this statement, albeit only as a secondary consequence. He who searches in the words of Christ in this fashion does not search deeply enough. He thus shows either that he is far from being able to make the words of the Son of God come to life or that he under-estimates the wisdom of His statements from the outset. And in the interpretations of many preachers these words, like everything else, are placed into the same category as the weakness and slackness of the kind of love which the Church likes to present as Christian love.
However, man can and must use these words of the Son of God only as a measure for his own faults. If he looks around with open eyes, and also observes himself at the same time, he will soon recognize that the faults which most irritate him in others are present in himself to a particularly high degree and in a way that is annoying to others.
In order to learn to observe properly it is perhaps best if you first closely observe your fellow-men only. There will hardly be anyone who doesn't find this or that fault in another, and who openly or covertly expresses it. As soon as this happens, you should place this person, who is so critical or even indignant about the faults of others, under close scrutiny. Before long you will be surprised to discover that the very faults he so sharply censures in others are present in him to a far greater degree!
This is a fact that will astound you at first, but which will always reveal itself without exception. When judging people in the future you may safely assume this to be factual without fear of making a mistake. The fact remains that a man who gets upset about this or that fault in another person is sure to have these same faults to a far greater extent within himself.
Approach such examinations calmly. You will be able to do so, and will recognize the truth right away, because you yourselves are not directly involved, and will therefore not attempt to gloss anything over for either party.
Take a person who is habitually sullen and discourteous and who seldom shows a friendly face, a person one would like to avoid. These are the very people who expect to be treated with special kindness, and who become enraged, girls and women to the point of tears, if they meet with but a single reproachful glance, however justified it may be. This strikes a serious observer as so unspeakably ridiculous, yet sad, that he forgets to be indignant about it.
And so it is in a thousand and more different ways. Learning this and recognizing it will be easy for you. Once you have reached that stage, also have the courage to assume that you yourselves are no exception, since you found proof in all the others. Then at last your eyes will be opened about yourselves. This means a great step forward towards your development, perhaps even the greatest one! You thereby cut through a knot that today holds down all mankind! Free yourselves, then joyfully help others in the same way.
This is what the Son of God meant to say with His simple words. Such was the value of the teaching He offered with His plain statements. But man did not honestly seek for their real meaning. Pretentiously as always, he merely wanted to look down upon others leniently. This flattered his disgusting arrogance. The whole wretchedness of his false thinking, the unconcealed hypocritical pharisaism, becomes clearly evident in all his past interpretations. It was transplanted in the identical manner into Christendom. For even those who call themselves seekers have taken, and still take, everything much too superficially under their usual and customary delusion that by reading the words they must also have truly grasped their meaning. They convince themselves of this entirely as they see fit. That is not honest seeking. For that reason they cannot find the real treasure, and therefore progress has not been possible. The Word remained dead for those who were supposed to have called it to life within themselves in order to derive values from it which would uplift them.
And every sentence the Son of God gave to mankind contains such values, which man does not find, but only because he has never sought for them diligently!