I subscribe to a daily Bible devotional called “The Upper Room.” This particular devotional series is a group effort by folks all over the world that contribute life experiences, and relate a scripture passage to it. Today’s message caused me to reflect, and genuflect, more than usual:
7:1 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.
7:2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
7:3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?
7:4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?
7:5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
The Daily Message (by Sandra Ramirez from Ohio)
I work with a father-and-son maintenance team. The father is jovial and easygoing, always ready to carry out his maintenance duties with a smile. His son is the sullen, quiet, despondent type, and I admit that I have formed an unfavorable opinion of him. One day I was in the break room for lunch at the same time as his father. I asked how his son was doing. He said, “Well, he’s doing better.” I asked, “What do you mean by ‘better’?” He told me his son had lost his young wife to cancer about a year ago. They had been married only one year, and his son was having a hard time adjusting.
The father’s words made me realize how quickly and easily we can judge other people without knowing anything about them. We sometimes even pass these opinions on without an iota of information about what these people might be going through.
Everyone has a story, whether we know that story or not. Matthew 7:3 reminds me as a follower of Christ to look beyond outward appearances in my relationships with my family, my friends, and my acquaintances and to share God’s love with everyone.
It seems that in this day and age, when the quick sound bite and the 30-second news items win the day, our relationships suffer. We’re so used to the quick greeting that if a conversation actually begins, we sometimes long for the next distraction (words first uttered by Alanis Morrissette 20 years ago). If we actually find ourselves forming a relationship outside of our comfort zone, we may start to pull away. We may even start to build walls with the bricks of our own prejudices and attitudes. And then we move on, relieved that we’ve thwarted one more messy relationship. Believe me, I’m just as guilty as anyone else. That’s the log in my eye…
Jesus calls us to get involved before we begin to form opinions. I’ve never felt that this passage means to not evaluate another person’s actions or attitudes…only that before we do, we need to invest in the other person first. We should get to know them in a way that makes it clear that we care for them enough to offer help, even it means telling a hard truth, but by doing so, we welcome them to love us enough to do the same.
What would the world look like if, instead of shouting at each other about how right we are, and wrong they are, we just tried to love each other where we’re at? Instead of calling the 17-year-old girl walking into Planned Parenthood a “whore” or a “baby-killer,” maybe we should reach out and try to understand why she’s there…was she raped by an older relative? Does she suffer from endometriosis so badly that she has to go on birth control pills? Instead of labeling someone a sarcastic prick, maybe we should consider that person has been hurt so many times that the only way they can cope is by keeping everyone at arm’s length? Instead of dismissing an entire group’s feelings of hurt based on a team’s nickname because by-God that’s what that team’s always been named, maybe some understanding of the last few centuries of denigration, reservation-living, broken promises, and shattered hopes should be considered.
This isn’t to say that we should always acquiesce or agree with the actions and words of those we encounter in our daily walks; just that a healthy dose of empathy in our daily lives might go a long way towards healing those that we don’t even know are hurting.
Alright, soapbox moment done. Good night!