I’m sure you’ve heard of the situation that US swimmer Ryan Lochte has recently found himself in during the Rio Olympics. Even after a week, the details are a little fuzzy. What apparently occurred is that Lochte and some fellow swimmers went to a party and drank (a lot), then left in a cab that stopped at a gas station where the swimmers broke…something (a sign?), and when they tried to leave a security guard (who had a gun, pointed a gun) demanded money in return for not calling the police.
The next day, Lochte embellished the story into a Hollywood script where they barely escaped a well orchestrated robbery by men poising as police officers.
The whole situation appears to be shady. The behavior of Lochte and the others swimmers was irresponsible and immature. By demanding money, the actions of the security guard seem to ride the line between a monetary fine for their actions and a bribe to not report their actions. And of course the exaggeration of the story (along with the filing of a false police report) turned it from an quickly forgotten addendum to the Olympics into a international story. The fallout hasn’t stopped for Lochte who, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, has been dropped by all his corporate sponsors, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren.
The truth is that we have all done a “Lochte.” Taking Jesus’ imagery from Matthew 7:3-5, most of us have had the little speck (a sin, a decision, a set of circumstances) that turned into a huge log. Maybe we didn’t think our actions were a big deal, or maybe we lied about our actions or maybe we didn’t think about the consequences. Whatever the reason, what we thought was relatively small issue turned into a huge problem.
On the other hand, we’ve all done the opposite thing too. When we really look at Lochte’s actions objectively, what did he really do? He broke a sign or mirror- we don’t really even know for sure. Of course the lying made it worse, but should people be calling for him to never be allowed to swim again and should sponsors be cutting ties with him over a broken sign? Especially when we see athletes arrested for DUI, drug use and domestic violence? Part of me believes that this whole situation is a society with a log in it’s eye pointing out the speck in someone else’s eye.
And we do the same thing. Because of insecurity or fear or pride, we can make someone’s minor infraction and blow it up into a Class A Felony. Much of the time, we do this to cover up our own faults. It’s like when a parent blows up at their kid for not making their bed and grounding them for a month when in reality they are mad at themselves for lying to their boss about the status of a project.
So what do we do? Jesus says that we have to look at our speck/log before we address someone else’s speck/log. Each of us needs to do a daily (maybe hourly) assessment to identify and confess any logs we find and, especially, to remove the specks before they turn into logs.
Let’s commit to examining ourselves and addressing our specks and our logs.