“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
There are two truths about small town football that are irrefutable. The first is that everyone in town will be at the game on Friday night. Small town football games are the social gathering spot for the community. Succeed or fail, everyone will see you. The second truth is that on a small-town football team, you’re going to play more than one position. With fewer students to choose from, each member of the team must pull more weight than their larger, urban and suburban counter-parts.
My father played both center and kicker for the small high school football team in the northeast Kansas town where both he and my mother were raised. My father also wears glasses, a trait handed down to each of his children and grandchildren.
One Friday evening, my father stood in his position on the field, waiting for the whistle blow of the referee that would signal the start of the game. The football was in place on the kicking tee, the rest of the kickoff team was lined up and in position, all while the humidity level was rising exponentially.
If you have glasses, then you know the struggle that comes from trying to maintain an active lifestyle in a high-humidity environment. Inevitably your glasses will fog up at the most inopportune moment, making it invariably difficult to see anything in front of you. This frustration, combined with the way that your glasses are prone to bouncing each time you run (at least they were in the days prior to sports goggles), makes sporting events particularly difficult for those of us who are visually challenged.
Finally, the whistle blew, and dad began the slow trot toward the football, building momentum for the kickoff that was soon to come. His glasses, covered with fog and bouncing in rhythm with each step, did not make the process any easier. Dad persevered, however, and kicked the football with all his might to begin a game that was soon to live in small-town infamy.
Down the field the players ran, each player watching the sky intently to see where the football would finally land. Running faster and faster, diligently looking for someone from the opposing team to catch the football, everyone finally came to slow and agonizing stop. Turning around to look at the tee, my father and everyone else saw the football sitting right where it had been before the kickoff…safe and sound.
Humans have a natural tendency to hold one another accountable by calling attention to the faults that we see in the lives and actions of others…and yet it is so easy to fail to recognize when something is clouding your vision, keeping you from seeing things as they really are and causing you to magnify the faults that you’re holding someone else accountable to; or to imagine faults that are not there at all.
If you want to make a valuable contribution to a culture with an increasingly partisan political climate, then spend time asking God to help you to see others clearly through the lens of a non-judgmental love that you hope to viewed through yourself. If you do, then you will probably find God spends quite a bit of time helping you to remove the planks from your own eyes…something that is likely to make the world a far better place than that speck of dust in your neighbor’s eye that you were so worried about.