A couple weeks ago, Tim Tebow joined the set of ESPN’s First Take. The lead analyst on the show, Stephen A. Smith, is a well-known “Tebow hater”. For those who don’t know, Tim Tebow became famous for playing football, and is now pursuing a career in baseball. Stephen A. asked Tebow about the switch and criticized him for not pursuing a career in baseball a long time ago if he was as passionate about the sport as he claimed to be. Tebow’s response was golden- he asked Smith, “Have you ever loved more than one thing?” Smith was silenced. He had no response because Tim’s response made him look in the mirror and see that in the same situation, he would have done the same thing.
As much as I love talking sports (and my ability to rant on about almost any American sport is on par with the best), this is not a sports post. I want to speak more about the type of question Tebow asked; one that makes you look in the mirror – a good thing for all of us to do from time to time, maybe even daily – and reflect on how judgemental you are towards others when they do exactly the same thing you would do when put in the same situation.
A classic example of needed self-reflection occurs for almost anyone who’s driven a highway road: Let’s say the speed limit is 75, and you go about 85-90 to make it to an appointment on time after running late from dealing with an emergency. Now let’s say you’re going down the same stretch of road the next week and you’re going 80 (who doesn’t live the 5mph over rule?) and someone speeds past you going 85-90. Is your first thought,“Man, I bet they’re running late. I’m sure they had something come up right as they were going out the door that they had to take care of right away.” If it is, kudos to you. But for most of us, the response tends to be more like, “What a knucklehead! I hope they get pulled over.” If this reaction is more what you experience, welcome to the club. I have a hunch it’s a big one.
I’m not trying to stand on my rameumptom and tell everyone else to quit being so judgmental. I know I’m as guilty as the next guy in this regard, but it has been on my mind a lot lately as something I need to work on. Isn’t it odd that we all want the benefit of the doubt initially and then a second and a third and sometimes an infinite amount of times, but there are many of us, me included, that are hesitant to give even a second chance to anyone else? Here’s how President Dieter F. Uchtdorf put it in his address in April 2012- “When it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.”
Imagine if none of us were given second chances. I’m going to venture a guess that this world would be a very, very unhappy one at best.
So, what do we do? Well, we can definitely do as Jeffery R. Holland suggested in his article and, “Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat!… soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what God, our Father in Heaven, pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing” – all things that we receive and offer through avoiding the passing of judgement on others.
I’m not perfect, I am far from it and so is everyone else. But we must try and take the approach of Tebow in his response to Stephen A. and ask that type of question to ourselves; The kind that makes us look in the mirror and try to give people the benefit of the doubt we would want if we were in the same situation. In terms of judging and not giving people the same chances we have pleaded for and received in the past, we must try and follow the famous two-word sermon from President Uchtdorf – “Stop it!”. Hopefully, we can find strength and comfort in the thought that perhaps another is withholding judgement of us.