Judging: Seeing the Bigger Picture

black dot

An economist was asked to talk to a group of business people about the recession. She tacked up a big sheet of white paper. Then she made a black spot on the paper with her pencil and asked a man in the front row what he saw. The man replied promptly, “A black spot.”
The speaker asked every person the same question, and each replied, “A black spot.”
With calm and deliberate emphasis the speaker said, “Yes, there is a little black spot, but none of you mentioned the big sheet of white paper. And that’s my speech.” (Bits & Pieces)

I find it interesting that we can spot the small things in most situations but miss the bigger picture. One little dent in a car stands out like a sore thumb but you don’t appreciate that the rest of the car is in great shape. Of all the beautiful pictures hanging properly on a wall, it’s the crooked one that you notice the most. And, if I may speak metaphorically, the human tendency is to make a mountain out of a molehill when there are bigger (and more important) fish to fry.

The same pattern can apply to human relationships. It’s easy to see one flaw in a person’s character but overlook all of their good qualities. One mistake, whether great or small, can ruin someone’s reputation even though that person was held in high esteem by many. From then on, all that people can see in that individual is the “black spot” and not the “big sheet of white.”

What everyone seems to overlook is that we all have a black spot on our papers. It’s just that we can’t always see it in ourselves. But others can. Although that spot is clearly apparent to other people—even if it’s only one little flaw—you cannot spot it in yourself. And yet, you can certainly find the black spot in others. Ironical, isn’t it?

Jesus points to this irony in his Sermon on the Mount when he addresses the subject of judging others. He says,

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5, New American Standard Bible, NASB; also, Luke 6:37-45)

We note, first of all, that the word “judge” is in the context of pronouncing condemnation upon others while not taking into consideration your own faults. You may known of someone who criticizes others while trying to build up themselves. Jesus doesn’t want his followers to have this kind of attitude. It’s easy to see the speck in another person’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye. We’d like to remove their speck but ignore our own log. Jesus wants us to correct ourselves, first, before passing judgment upon others lest God judge us. Besides, we’re all going to be judged someday, whether we’re rewarded for doing good or punished for doing evil (Daniel 12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Rev. 20:6, 11-15). Since God is the ultimate Judge, we leave all matters up to him to decide, trusting in his mercy (Matt. 5:7) and forgiveness (Matt. 6:14-15).

Having said this, it’s also important to note that Jesus is not necessarily saying that we should not discern between what is right or wrong. We need to be able to judge between what is true and what it is false (Matt. 7:15-23; Galatians 1:9); what is just and what is unjust (Leviticus 19:15; Psalm 82:2; Jude 3-4, 11-16); what is good and what is evil (Isaiah 5:18-23; Rom. 12:9). In this way, the church offers discipline when necessary so as to address serious problems (Philippians 4:2-3; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 2 Cor. 2:5-11), and to provide the opportunity to save those who are on the road to eternal destruction (James 5:19-20; Jude 23). Christians are admonished to correct one another through the use of scriptures and Christlike love while, at the same time, considering their own temptations and sins (Ezekiel 18:27-28; Galatians 6:1-5; Ephesians 4:15; Philippians 2:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The fact is, looking only at the black spot diverts our attention to the entire sheet of paper. Getting the bigger picture helps to put the black spot in better perspective. The same is true as we judge the actions of others. It’s said that in judging others, it’s always wise to see with the heart as well as with the eyes. Perhaps this is wise because there is more to see with the heart than merely with the eyes. Besides, God is always searching the heart, even our own! (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:10; Rom. 8:27)

Here is Hillsong presenting, “From the Inside Out”: http://youtu.be/SZ-fghqc8Oo

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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