Blind Spots

Let me start by defining my term then applying it to leadership in our lives. By definition a blind spot is something we cannot see. It is similar to deception, the very nature of deception is that we are unaware of something or we would not be deceived. In driving we refer to blind spots where we may have a pillar or something else blocking our view as we drive. The point of blind spots is not that we cannot see, it is that we cannot see from certain perspectives or see certain aspects of things.

We generally view blind spots as something negative, and they usually are. On the other hand, trainers put blinders on race horses to avoid distractions and keep them focused on the task at hand. At times we may need to be blind to some things to accomplish our purpose. So while I acknowledge that, my focus is on how blind spots can hinder our walk with Jesus and how we can overcome them.

The classical example of blind spots in scripture is Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.

1  “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 (NKJV)

This is probably the most frequently quoted passage of scripture by a certain group of people, those who are not Christians! It is also a great example of taking scripture out of context. The irony is that those who tell others they have no right to judge are simply demonstrating their own blind spot! In this passage is Jesus really telling us to never pass judgement on others? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical of Jesus since in verse 5 He accuses His hearers of hypocrisy? Isn’t that passing judgment? If Jesus could do it why can’t we? The answer is that we can. There are however some qualifiers. Prior to looking at them let me share some other scriptures to demonstrate the issue requires more than a surface look.

43  Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Luke 7:43 (NKJV) 24  Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24 (NKJV) 3  For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 1 Corinthians 5:3 (NKJV) 12  For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 1 Corinthians 5:12 (NKJV)

These passages, using the same Greek word as in Matthew 7:1, reinforce judging. So how do we reconcile these seemingly contradictory statements? We reconcile them by understanding what Jesus is getting at in Matthew 7 as there are other similar passages in the New Testament that warn us against passing judgment.

One of the ways we judge others wrongly is criticizing things we ourselves do. Paul addressed this in Romans as noted below. However I like the way I once heard Mike Bickle put it, “Our sins look terrible on other people.” His point was highlighting blind spots. We tend to find it easy to criticize others for the very things we practice while not seeing them in ourselves.

1  Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. Romans 2:1 (NKJV)

So how do we recognize and overcome blind spots? We can ask the Holy Spirit to show us, and He will, though frequently He will use other people. I recently had an experience where some colleagues at work pointed out that I regularly used the phrase ‘ya no.’ I was surprised by this on two fronts. One I was unaware that I had been using the phrase, and two, to reinforce Bickle’s point, I found it annoying when others did it! Once I became aware of this I stopped doing it, though I did catch myself a couple of times. The other aspect is why do I find this phrase annoying? I think it is because it reflects a lack of confidence or certainty in what we are saying and I don’t like seeing that in myself or others. Paul did say that we should let our yes be yes and our no be no.

So, back to the Matthew passage for a more in depth review to lead us into how to judge rightly.

1  “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 (NKJV)

In context this passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaching on how to live a right life with right heart attitudes. His point is similar to that of Paul in Romans 2:1, we tend to judge others without first examining our own heart. If our heart is wrong it distorts how we see. After all another part of this sermon says,

22  “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. Matthew 6:22 (NKJV)

Having a right heart attitude allows us to see clearly. Jesus other point in this passage is that in most cases when we remove the plank from our eyes what see in others tends to shrink. In the middle of writing this I read Rick Joyner’s new book, “Living Dangerously” where he addresses the factors behind the climate change debate. I highly recommend it. However what struck me as I was reading it was he also wrote about blind spots, yet was very gracious to those he disagreed with. He truly sought to practice the love described in 1 Corinthians.

4  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)

He wrote the book out of an experience of being part of the recent documentary James Cameron did on climate change. He provides a number of examples of those who simply could not see what was clearly in front of them because at a heart level they were already committed to another perspective. Without using the language he describes the function of our brain known as the Reticular Activating System. This function teaches us to pay attention to what we already believe and value because to pay attention we must filter the thousands of bits of information coming at us all of the time.

To overcome this requires a teachable spirit and a love of the truth. Have you ever helped a blind person across the street or through a difficult area? If so you helped them overcome their blind spot! In the same way to overcome our blind spots we generally need someone else to help us see. This is one role of the body of Christ. We need to be teachable and need others to be lovingly honesty in giving us feedback. Feedback about blind spots is usually hard to hear. I realized a number of years ago that the vast majority of people who request feedback are really asking for affirmation, and often reject or become offended by true honest feedback. So if we want to move beyond our blind spots we need humble hearts.

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