“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. – Matthew 7:1-5
The image is so ludacris that it is easily dismissed. No one goes around with planks in their eyes! No one. Sometimes, however, our vision is clouded. Mine certainly might have been.
We lived for 10 years in southeast Arkansas. The town was racially and socioeconomically divided. We lived in the mostly white and middle and upper middle class area of town. The historically all black University of Arkansas a Pine Bluff was in the northern part of town.
I noticed something when driving through the town. Every time I drove behind an African-American person I was certain he or she was slowing down. I assumed that it was an effort to exert control over “the [white] man.” It’s a sad commentary on my biases and prejudice. I’m not proud of it at all.
Not too long ago the lie of that conclusion was pointed out to me by a fellow pastor. He asked, “Have you ever thought that perhaps he drove slowly because he was often watched more closely and ticketed more frequently for speeding?” I had not thought of that. I am sad that I had not.
I also learned while there that some of the African-American pastors were more in alignment with my theology than I had thought. I learned that because we actually met and had respectful conversations with each other over the course of more than a year.
You have to remove planks – or at least blinders – if you are to see others for who they are. You have to get up close and interact with them. You have to learn their stories. You have to see them as real people.
Jesus says, “Judge not.” He also says, “Love one another.” The two go hand in hand. I may want to confront someone or exhort him to a different lifestyle or choice. Best I do that without clouded vision because of biases, prejudices, or preconceived notions.
Thankfully that’s how Jesus looks at me: with perfect love and pure grace. He got up close to us and saw us as objects of the Father’s love and people for whom he would give his life. Oh to see as he sees!