O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The little known last stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner” reveals the reason we historically have stood and given our attention to the flag during its singing. It’s not law, just custom. Customs are often things that are attacked in protest, as this one has been.

John Branch, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the New York Times, wrote an article that took a unique stance regarding the recent protests and responses. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/01/sports/football/nfl-anthem-protest.html)

Branch draws attention to the reality that the players are not the only ones in the stadiums who are not standing at attention during the playing of the national anthem. He writes, “As players continue being judged by their postures during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” perhaps it is fair to turn the lens around.”

Two things stood out for me.

Judged.

How are we supposed to interpret a person’s actions? Are we allowed to judge a person by what they do? What does a person’s behavior tell us about their heart?

These are difficult questions. One’s that have been wrestled with for ages. Often, we approach the debate from the side of asking how far can we go in judging someone, rather than asking how far have we gone in loving them. It changes the argument.

In Matthew 7, Jesus says, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

Seems straight forward and clear. The danger in judging is it breeds more judging. Once we start down the road of being judgmental, it becomes easier to judge and harder to love. Judging attracts judging.

We are called to love. Love goes to where another person is and sits in that person’s chair and looks through that person’s eyes. Love finds common ground and desires relationship and connection. Love likes a mess, because people are messy.

When we are quick to assume so much about people we know so little of, we are not loving them, we are judging them.

Turn the lens around.

Jesus goes on to say, “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

When I see in others things I do not like, my first response should to be examine my own life for similar things. It is often the case that I react to things that I struggle with myself. So, I need to turn the camera around and point it at myself. What do I see? How do I measure up to the standard?

What people do does matter. Behavior has consequences. I’m not arguing that point.

How I think about people matters more. The condition of my heart has consequences too.

Kimray is a place where people are loved first and then supported as they grow. We are a diverse group with amazing stories. Learning those stories helps us to see the world from another place and understand each other a little more fully. Understanding is the key to community.

Less judging and more loving, That’s the Kimray Way.

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