In an unprecedented move the NBA has fined Clippers owner Donald Sterling, 2.5 million dollars, banned him from the NBA for life, and strongly demanded that he sell the team. ABC News reported, “In the recorded conversations, which appeared online this weekend, Sterling can be heard telling girlfriend V. Stiviano not to post pictures of herself with black people to Instagram or bring black people to Clippers games. A separate recording features Sterling’s telling Stiviano that he doesn’t think he’s racist because he gives food, clothes and cars to his black employees.”* But is Sterling really any different than the rest of us? I don’t mean that we are all racist but that what we say and do is justified and right in our own eyes.
There is a Proverb that says, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives.” (Proverbs 16:2, NASB95) We could rephrase that slightly – “All the ways of a man are pure and righteous in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the spirit, heart, and motive.” Sterling is an example of this verse. He thought he was pure and righteous – but he wasn’t.
Here is the lesson to glean from Sterling’s fall and Proverbs 16:2. We think we are right; that in our own eyes our thoughts, words, and actions are justified. That our motives are pure. Pick any of the perpetrators of evil from history, one way or another they thought they were justified in their actions. That their acts of evil against humanity were somehow justified by a greater good; even if that greater good was their own pleasure. We are as blind as they were when it comes to judging our own heart.
The answer to this blindness is found in David’s prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NASB95) Giving Jesus permission to dig around in your heart may be frightening, after all we generally like who we are. However, to really follow Jesus we must continually have our eyes opened so that we can see where we are following our own likes and desires instead of following Him.