Saturday, August 11, 2012


Romans 12:3 (NIV)
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

            After I turned 55, I took a refresher driving course sponsored by AARP. To be honest I resisted doing it, but my insurance company promised me a discount if I did, so I gave in. One of the things the course stressed was that, as a person grows older, their blind spots increase. When driving a car, there are places to your side and behind you that you cannot see with your mirrors. These are your blind spots. You have to be very intentional to actually turn your head and look into these blind spots to see what might be hiding there. As a person grows older, and their eyesight weakens, these blind spots get larger.

            I have been reminded recently that, just as we have blind spots while driving, we have blind spots in how we see our lives. As we grow older, our spiritual and relational blind spots get bigger. We stop noticing things that could have negative consequences in our lives. Unless we consciously examine these blind spots they will continue to grow. Paul challenges us not to become complacent in this area. Instead he challenges us to regularly examine our lives and discover our blind spots.

            One of the dangers of blind spots is that it is easier to see them in others than in ourselves. When someone cuts us off on the highway, we get upset because they didn’t see us. Yet we are sometimes oblivious to the times we do that to someone else. In the same way we can easily spot a self-centered person, while missing our own selfish tendencies. So let’s take a look at a few common blind spots.  

            One of the common blind spots that many of us struggle with is making ourselves the center of the universe. You would think that as we grow older we would quickly recognize this one, but we often don’t. In fact, we often don’t think this is true of us. From our perspective, we are always respectful of others. Yet, in practice, we are often oblivious to the needs and desires of others. We take for granted that what we want or what we think is the right thing. We don’t stop to think how our words and actions are received by others.

            It takes conscious effort on our part to be aware of this blind spot. Instead of acting as if my opinion is the only one that matters, I need to stop and consider the other person first. It is not wrong to be aware of my own needs and desires, but it should never be to the exclusion of others.

            Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 (NIV)

            Another blind spot that I have become aware of is allowing myself to just go through the motions. Routine is a part of our lives. In fact, we could not survive without some routine. Routine allows us to accomplish regular tasks with a minimum outlay of energy. Routine can also rob us of the vitality of our lives. We get in a rut of doing the same things over and over again. We are not really excited about them, nor do they bring us great pleasure. Yet we persist in our entrenched ways.

            The only way to break out of our routine is to consciously change things up. This is a combination of planning and spontaneity. At first, we may have to intentionally plan to do something in a different way. For example, if you always eat dinner in front of the TV, you may need to plan to move to the dining room, set the table and actually force yourself to hold a conversation. On the other hand, having the courage to do something out of the ordinary at the spur of the moment is also necessary. Remember, routine is not necessarily bad, but it can become a trap if you let it.

            That reminds me of another blind spot. I have been struggling with this one quite a bit lately. It is holding in depth conversations with yourself in your mind, but failing to communicate the content of these conversations with those who need to be informed. If you are married, or part of a family, your decisions and actions are not exclusively yours. They need to be made in the context of a shared life experience, because your decisions affect the lives of other people. Therefore, communication is essential. Yet many couples tend to truly communicate less and less the longer they are together. Instead, they make assumptions about what the other person is thinking and feeling.

            Let me highlight just one more blind spot. That is the tendency we all have to take one another for granted. As we become more and more comfortable in our relationships, we often stop working at them. Instead we begin to coast, assuming that things will continue on smoothly into the future. This is a very dangerous blind spot. Many people have awakened from their relational sleep to discover that their relationship has dissolved. This can happen on the spiritual level as well as the interpersonal level. If we neglect our relationship with Christ we will drift away from Him. He never stops loving us, but we can stop responding to his love.

            Our relationships with God and with others are too important to take for granted. Spiritual and relational blind spots can have very serious consequences. We all need to regularly stop, examine our lives and identify our blind spots. Once we know where they are, we need to consciously work to minimize them. We will always have blind spots in life, but we can learn how to recognize and deal with them.

1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

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