Column 11.9.18

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Column 11.9.18

Ever heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover?”

If you haven’t, who are you? We need to meet. If you have, the immediate thought that probably comes to your mind is, “Yes, of course I have! It’s like the most cliché saying ever!” 

You’d be right in thinking that because it is most certainly overused. But, in my experience, I have found that this cliché, overused, trite saying still rings true and is very applicable to us.

If you’re not judging me too harshly about this topic already, let me tell you why I think that. So, there was this person. I saw her around campus a lot because we were in the same residence hall. 

I knew her name because other people had pointed her out me as “someone who was someone” on campus. And I judged her—like so hard. Seriously, every time I saw her I had to say something to my friends.

 Now, you may be asking, “What was it about her that made you do that?” 

The answer is nothing. 

There was no legitimate reason (not that there is ever really a legitimate reason to judge someone) for me to judge her. 

But I judged her because of who I thought she was, what other people had told me about her and because of other outward things. Also, I had met her briefly before, so I thought I was justified.

I wasn’t.

So, semi-recently, I got to know this person. Surprise, surprise, she is wonderful and not really what I thought she was like.  

Although, it turns out, a few of the things I judged her for are true. However, as I learned more about her, I realized those things are superficial, don’t matter at all, and are not who she really is.

I felt and still feel like a loser about this, but I’m also kind of a winner because I have an awesome friend in her now. Now you may be saying to yourself, “Ok, so you’re a judgey person. Why is this relevant to me?” 

I’m so glad you asked. I believe that judgment of others has become a pattern of thinking for some of us.

 I know you might think I am judging you right now because I think you might be judging other people, (and yes, I do see the irony in that), but please hear me out. I think we may look at the people around us and think things. 

Sometimes, these “things” might be positive, but most of the time, at least for me, they are more likely to be negative. 

We may be critical of people’s dress, manner, physical appearance, actions and so much more without even knowing them. Some of us (me again) may voice these opinions to our friends or family and keep up the vicious cycle of judgment, causing harm to those we speak to and those we speak of.

It simply does not make sense to judge those we do not know. 

For example, I think we could all agree that the cliché statement I made earlier—the one about not judging a book by its cover—makes sense. By that, I mean most of us could agree that critiquing a book we have never read makes for an inaccurate critique. 

I try to withhold my judgement of a book until I have read it for myself.

So why do I not show people, who I could seriously harm with my critical spirit, the same courtesy I show an inanimate object written by someone whom I will probably never meet?

More importantly, God’s word says He condemns those who judge others.

James 4: 11-12 says, “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”

As a friend of mine put it, “Only Jesus can judge.” So why do I?

I think part of that answer to that question can also be found in Scripture. 

1 Sam. 16:7b says, “For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

I have proven from this story that I am a superficial person who sees the outward appearance of someone as important. In contrast, God looks on the inside of man and sees that as the thing that is most important.