“Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” – John 7:24
I was driving home from church the other morning when I noticed something in the road. The car in front of me swerved to miss the item, and when I got closer, I could see it was a large cardboard box. For some weird reason, I got this noble idea to pull into a nearby parking lot, go out onto the busy street, dodge some early morning traffic and get the box out of the road. If people continued to swerve to avoid the box, sooner than later it was going to cause an accident.
As I headed into the street, I noticed a car slowing down to let me get the box. At first I thought, What a nice man. Then this thought quickly entered my head: I bet this driver thinks I’m the one who lost the box. Little does he know I’m actually the one doing the good deed.
Here I was just trying to do the right thing and STILL my ego wants somebody to see me and say, “Hey! What a nice, gray-haired man to get that box out of the street. Hope he lives.” Or some such thing. I wanted to be known for the good I was doing, not be judged for being the one who littered the highway.
Now my mind was really kicking into gear. First, how do I know that driver was judging me for littering? I don’t. I figured he was thinking about me what I’d be thinking about someone else if I drove up on a scene where a middle-aged maniac was dodging traffic to save the life of an abandoned cardboard box.
Self-Help Thought # 1: I need to quit trying to guess what other people are thinking about me. Besides, do I really want to know everything people are thinking? No, probably not.
Self-Help Thought # 2: I wonder how many times I judge a scene without all the facts. Just as other drivers may have seen me as a loser (of the box) without knowing my motives, I’ve often viewed others as the culprit in a situation because I didn’t have all the answers.
This is why Jesus’ words in John 7:24 hit me so hard: I have often done the very thing He warned us to avoid.
For example: Remember that husband and wife having a low-voiced, intense discussion in the parking lot? Are they arguing because he said something selfish, or are they trying to figure out how to bless a family in the church and still have enough money to pay their rent?
See that man coming out of the bar? Has he been drinking away his paycheck, or did his mom call him to see if he could talk his dad into coming home?
Or that nut in the middle of the street picking up trash. . . .you get the picture.
That’s a lot of mental gymnastics for one morning, but it was a caution to me not to judge a person or a situation to quickly without knowing all the facts. Hopefully, I won’t have to risk my life next time just to learn a simple lesson.
Previously posted Feb. ’10
Your post is a follow up to our pastor’s sermon, “Accepting People ‘As Is’.” Maybe followers of Christ need to remove our fancy church clothes and become willing to reach out as Jesus reached out. The best quote from his sermon was, “If Jesus was walking around here on earth, I don’t believe He’d be at New Life. He’d be down at (and he listed the local bars and clubs.)” You are so right. We need to remove eyes of judgment and insert eyes of compassion….and ignore what anyone else thinks!