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The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
When our daughter was a teenager and on the dating scene, quite a number of fellows showed up at our door.
I remember two in particular. One young man was clean cut, dressed conservatively, and arrived late. When Charlie, our Brittany Spaniel, approached him, stubby tail wagging, his muscles stiffened and he leaned away—body language for “I don’t like dogs.” He practically ignored Jaime’s younger brother, although he was polite to me.
The other fellow arrived on time—dressed in black, complete with chains, body piercings and tattoo. He, in contrast to Mr. Clean Cut, crouched down and ruffled Charlie’s soft fur, then grabbed a baseball glove and threw catch with Jaime’s younger brother while she finished getting ready for their date. He, too, was polite to me, but not in a stiff, formal manner like the other guy.
Now, as a mother, I preferred the appearance of Mr. Clean Cut. When Mr. Gothic showed up at the door, my heart sank. But their actions spoke volumes for their natures.
One of my “litmus tests” of people is how they treat animals and children. So, even though I cringed at his appearance, I liked Mr. Gothic better than Mr. Clean Cut.
It turned out Mr. Clean Cut was also Mr. Bad News.
I’m too quick to judge people based on their outward appearance.
When I sat in my booth at the Groundhog Festival in June, I saw all kinds of people—young, old, middle-aged, whose dress was gothic, conservative and downright outlandish. I especially recoiled inwardly when I saw tattoos. I mean, not one tattoo, but—well, put it this way: Their arms were mostly green.
The way we dress is more than a fashion statement. It’s a period, a comma, a question mark or an exclamation point (and sometimes more than one). It’s a proclamation of who we are.
But still I’m not to judge.
But I did.
“Stop judging by mere appearances,” Jesus said (Matthew 7:24).
“Take the log out of your own eye, then you will be able to see clearly,” Jesus admonishes us in Matthew 7:5.
“Let us stop passing judgment on one another,” Paul wrote (Romans 14:13).
I remember one time long ago when I was being particularly critical of a family member. Then one day during my Bible reading, a verse jumped out at me and hit me square between the eyes: “Who are you to judge the servant of someone else?” (Romans 14:4 TEV)
The Bible has lots more to say about judging, but we can sum it up in one word: Don’t.
Don’t judge other people’s appearance. Don’t even judge their actions. How do you know if that snappy cashier wasn’t up all night with a sick child? We don’t know what pain or heartbreak folks are trying to hide.
Billy Graham once said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”
When I find myself judging others, Lord, remind me to pray for them instead. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Matthew 7:1–5