Have you ever seen Sequoia trees? They are massive, wide, tall trees. They are bigger than most others on the planet; so big that cars can be driven through caves carved from their trunks. They are beautiful, but they make ugly facial decorations.
Consider the following verses of scripture:
Matthew 7:1-51 '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.'
Whenever I read those verses, the picture my mind conjures up is one of me with a giant Sequoia protruding from my eye socket. At times, I can be judgmental. I can be hypocritical. I grow some pretty good-sized Sequoias. My husband, Ryan, and I have a little code to inform each other when we're being hypocritical. If I'm judging someone, Ryan leans over and says (sarcastically, although with love), 'Nice Sequoia'. Immediately, I know he's telling me to search my heart and give some grace rather than judgment.
It's so easy to judge others, isn't it? Because we cannot possibly understand fully another person's heart and motives, we make assumptions about their behavior that may not be accurate. Toward them, we show judgment. When we find ourselves in similar situations, we demand grace. I like the image of the Sequoia blocking my view... I cannot properly see the situation, and at the same time I am the one who looks like a fool.
I am amazed by how quickly those darn Sequoias pop up. I can be walking along minding my own business, and then I judge someone's parenting skills, judge someone's clothing as inappropriate, or judge someone's marriage. The Sequoia is a quick reminder to focus on my own sins and leave other people's sins to God. Furthermore, the Sequoia is my reminder that I could never know every detail about the other person's situation; I don't know their circumstances, I don't know their motives, and I couldn't possibly know everything that has happened to them in their life. Remove the Sequoia, Carrie, and give grace liberally.
I wonder how many times I have ignored the Sequoia and misjudged someone? I wonder if the lady's haircut I criticized was really a wig she wore to hide her cancer-ravaged bald head? I wonder if the man whose bad attitude I scoffed at was doing his best to get over the fact that his wife left him earlier that morning? I wonder if the student who refused to turn in work before the deadline had a learning disability that embarrassed him? There is so much I cannot know about others and their situations. My job is not to judge them; my job is to love them.
If I worry less about the specks in others' eyes, the Sequoia will protrude from my eye less often. And in this case, less is better.
Those Sequoias sure can get in the way.