“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” “Things aren’t always what they seem.” “Don’t jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts.”
Everyone has heard these clichés. Here’s why: clichés are clichés because they are so often true. Sometimes things really aren’t what they seem.
This truth was driven home to me on a day I had just finished getting my nails done. While the polish dried my glance fell on a couple of cute young girls, maybe twelve years old. One of them was getting a set of acrylic nails put on. The first thought that went through my head? “What does a 12-year-old need with acrylic fingernails?” Inwardly I frowned.
I watched her as she turned to say something to her mom. That’s when I noticed her headband. Not that it was an extraordinary headband, but it was unusual because it obviously held a wig in place. As I looked at her more closely, I saw that she had neither eyebrows nor eyelashes.
My heart sank as I realized that this twelve-year-old was bald; perhaps she just finished chemotherapy. The reason that her mom had brought her to the salon that day was not the adolescent vanity I had so quickly assumed it to be. Instead, it was the effort of a mom who loved her daughter and wanted her to feel beautiful again.
A few months later a picture in the local newspaper of this same young lady with the same broad headband caught my eye. She had just died of a rare brain cancer, after indeed going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy.
How quick I had been to judge without knowing the whole story.
God’s word cautions us against this, saying “do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:12).
Yikes—I don’t want to be judged the way I judge others! I do it without knowing all the facts, based upon my own prejudices, the mood I’m in, or through the filter of my own experience. Poor standards at best.
I am grateful that God sees things very differently. He knows the big picture of things as well as every minute detail, and assesses them both perfectly. He’s not deceived by pretense, because He discerns the actual thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:15). He “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).
Scary? A bit, because while I can occasionally fool other people with a good façade I cannot fool God. It’s also wonderful, because His motives are not like mine. His goal is not to criticize or condemn us, but to call us to Himself (John 3:16-17). He wants only to lead us into a knowledge of the truth; truth about ourselves and truth about Him.
I can trust Someone who judges with that kind of wisdom and those kind of motives.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. (Isaiah 11:2-4)
- Have you ever been judged unfairly?
- How did it make you feel?
- Ask God to show you if you have ever judged someone else in that same way. If so, is there any apology you need to make? Any forgiveness you need to seek?
Father, You are perfect, and You judge perfectly. I ask You to look inside me, and where there is the darkness of a judgmental spirit, reveal it to me. Please help me to look at situations and people in the same way You do, with eyes of compassion, fairness, and understanding. I long to be more like You.