More Than A Watermelon?
By DANNY MINTON
Look at the picture above. What do you see? Everyone will probably describe the picture in the same way. It’s a watermelon. It’s a green watermelon with stripes. It’s a short, squatty watermelon. There are numerous ways to describe the picture. Look closer. I mean closer with a more discerning eye. Do you see it now?
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article, “I Owe 7-11 99 Cents.” It was about a time in the 1960s when a group of teenagers, including me, drove up to a 7-11 store, grabbed a watermelon from the stack in front, and took off to the park to eat it. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it happened. Now, look at the picture. What do you see? I’ve added a little more, but that’s still not the point. Look very closely.
Do you see it now? Did you notice that the watermelon takes up less than 10 percent of the picture? The most considerable portion of the image is white. Yet, more than likely, most of you just looked at the black border or mostly the watermelon. Then, when I mentioned my fault, you could see the watermelon with a picture behind it.
One of the significant problems that we face today is how people spend so much time looking at the 10 percent, and it’s usually the negative things that take up time. You watch the news, and the most attention negative side receives the most attention. You hear the people who gripe and complain. You watch those who tear things up, set fires, and rant and rave about things. The focus on the negative becomes so intense there is the failure to see the good side of things.
Public figures face harsh criticism for one mistake, sometimes done decades before. A slipped word causes the loss of jobs, regardless of how well someone has performed. People look at the 10 percent and ignore the 90 percent filled with great moments in their lives and others’ lives. All of a sudden, the one act becomes the central issue. I’ve been a minister for over 50 years. Should that one mistake as a teenager overshadow what I hope has been 50 years of trying to do what is right?
Everyone makes mistakes, period. Everyone has done or said something they regret. Everyone has negatives in their lives, some visible, some hidden. We don’t want anyone to see or know ours, but an effort is often directed at others to make sure the blemishes in their lives are well known. It seems that people try to make themselves look better, not by changing their lives, but by making others look worse.
Listen to Jesus, “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.” Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV2011)
Now that is a picture hard to get out of your head. Instead of a plank, some interpret it as a log. Put that in your mind, an oak log sticking out of your eye! In other words, how can we be so quick to criticize others when we have our own issues with which to deal?
Jesus precedes this statement with the main lead-in thought. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV2011)
Of course, some negative things in people’s lives need addressing. However, Paul wrote to the Christians in Colossae, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Colossians 3:8 (NIV2011) I believe we should be asking ourselves before we speak, “Is that how I would want people to talk to or about me?” If you’ve heard that before, maybe I should rephrase it from a famous person, “So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV2011)
It’s easy to look at the watermelon in a person’s life and ignore the vast majority of good in their lives. But as Christians, Jesus might tell us. “Take care of your watermelon patch before criticizing the one your brother is holding.”
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ