My friend Tina, from work, went to a paint and wine event the other night. Each person got a small canvas and had the opportunity to paint a picture as the leader gave some instructions. Tina explained that she had a little trouble with the waterfall and that her painting looked better from a distance.
We all examine things and people too closely sometimes and don’t see them in their true light. Our foreheads wrinkle up and our minds get a confused and possibly twisted picture.
I did that with a faux wood sample I was working on. I got up right next to it and was seeing a really light tan color as the base color. I tried to make my copy by starting with that color. But no matter what paints and tints I mixed, I just couldn’t get my copy to look right.
The next day I sat eating lunch across the room from my sample and it hit me: I was looking at it too closely! I needed to back up and see the big picture. When I did, I saw that the overall base color was much darker than I’d originally thought. I started with the new base color and finished my copy.
When I lived in Chicago I liked going to the Art Institute and looking at paintings by Ivan Albright. He is “noted for his meticulously detailed, exaggeratedly realistic depictions of decay and corruption” (Encyclopedia Britannica). In his portraits he painted every wrinkle, every hair, every pimple, every mole. His paintings were fascinating, but kind of ugly and gruesome. He was looking too closely.
I’ve noticed that this principle of narrow and intense examination can work negatively in real life as well as in paintings. If we start looking too closely, we’re more likely to see flaws and things we don’t like. If we back up to see the bigger picture, and make more of an effort to see people the way God sees them, then we won’t see all the little uglies that get our minds going in the wrong direction.
We only have the right to see others as God sees them. We can’t make ourselves critical examiners. We don’t know a person’s whole story. Our job is to be meek to God. If He shows us some ungodly characteristics, it’s because He trusts we will at least pray and perhaps do more as the Lord directs us to help them or even just get away from them.
Jesus said, “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. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Matt 7:1-3).
These are really powerful words. If we are sick, or are upset about some problem at home and we come to work or school and speak harshly to others, do we want them to judge us and think horrible things about us? No. We want them to accept us, maybe pray for us, forgive us and still think the best of us.
Jesus told us “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). If we can go to that place within and tap into the big picture of how God sees us and others, that’s where we want to be. Our pictures will be true.
When Tina showed me a photo of her painting, I was very impressed. I found out that it was her very first painting. She did an awesome job.
When my wood-grain sample was finished, the head designer came to look at all the samples we’d completed. When shown the piece I did, the designer asked, “Is it real?” Well, in my business, that’s the biggest compliment you can get.
I’ve tried to remember this lesson at work as well as in relationships: Always take the time to step back and look from a distance to see the overall picture. Treat people like you want to be treated. Try to see people from the Lord’s point of view and let Him deal with the dirty details. It’s not always so easy, but it’s what God wants for us. This way of thinking will keep us humbler, healthier and happier.
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