Why I see what I think I see
We were reminiscing the other day. There was this girl who used to irritate me something rotten. Not deliberately. But she would angle for attention, in your face, fussing. I was never outwardly mean to her, just avoided being around her as far as possible. Older and hopefully wiser, I can see now she was struggling to be accepted, probably had a low self-esteem; and my response did her no favours. Maybe it says more about me than about her…
I can just imagine the scene where Jesus first told the story about the man with a plank in his eye, trying to take a speck out of his brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-6). I bet he played it up as a real comedy act. Lots of laughs from his merry audience. Then he followed it up with the vision of pigs skidding on pearls like ballbearings, and chasing the tail of the one who’d tried to give them such a treat!
The point was this. Clear-sightedness. It’s not necessarily that your brother has smaller faults than you, but that our own problems, experiences, wrongdoing and hurts, cloud our vision and get in the way of how we see a situation. Our perception is distorted by how we are; we misjudge.
Dogs and pigs were both considered unclean animals. Why give something wonderful and divine to scum? They’ll only use it against you anyway. No. If you have some special inspirational thought, you should choose carefully who you impart it to.
I believe Jesus was tacitly challenging their notions about who they saw as ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs’ – their attitudes to other people. Are there people we look down on, who we judge unworthy of being blessed with our noble opinions? Who don’t fit our expectations, and the standards we believe are correct?
It’s not even about how I perceive other people, and how I judge their faults. It’s about clear-sightedness to understand why I see what I think I see. It’s about me and my attitudes. It’s about getting rid of my hang-ups, seeing beyond my scars, recognising the filters of my culture, dealing with my sinfulness, so that I can see people as God sees them. Hung-up, hurting, culturally confined and sinful. In need of grace. In need of love. Not in need of my judgementalism.
Get my attitude right, and I’m free to love, free to help others.