Monday, January 21, 2019

Looks Can Be Deceiving

I was driving home from a late night hospital visit a few months ago and could have sworn that I was passed on the highway by Ricky Bobby. For those of you who don't know who Ricky Bobby is, he is the fictional character from the 2006 movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby starring Will Ferrell. In the movie Ferrell's character only wants to race, win, and go fast. As I was on my way home from this particular visit, I was passed by a truck that was driving fast, erratic, and looking like he was trying to win the Daytona 500. What caught my eye, when he was slowed down by traffic in the left lane before swerving in front of me, was the fact that the man had a Disabled Veteran license plate. The man made a few more moves that would have made Dale Earnhardt cringe and then headed on down the highway leaving us in his dust. Now I will be honest about the situation. My first thought was judgmental when I saw the tag and the way the guy was driving. I thought to myself, "This guy isn't driving like a disabled veteran." I don't know who was driving the truck. It could have been the disabled veteran or it could have been a kid, grandkid, or it could've been stolen for all I know. What I do know is that in that moment of being judgmental, I was reminded that looks can be deceiving as God convicted me because I didn't know the whole story.

Being judgmental is extremely easy to do. I would dare say we all normally do this with everyone we meet, basing our judgment of the person on some superficial analysis. We size the person up based on their clothing, their accent, their skin color, their bravado, their timidness, or for any other reason in a mile long list. In the end, being judgmental towards someone does us no good and it can very easily give us the wrong impression of the person. Like the old saying goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover." We never know what is on the inside of a person simply by looking at the outer layers. God is very careful to warn us about this in His Word. When selecting a new king for the nation of Israel from the family of a man named Jesse, God reminded the prophet Samuel about judging a royal candidate based on their outward appearance. God told Samuel (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV), "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." God knew the hearts of the sons of Jesse and only one of them, David, met God's criteria to be the next king. We have to be reminded of the same thing on a daily basis. We can look at the outward appearance of a person all day long, but we will never know what is in their heart.

Jesus famously said in Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV), "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." These few words should give us pause to consider the qualifications with which we make decisions about a person. What if they used the same "measure" on us? Would they come up with the same judgmental decision about us? The next time you make a rash judgment of a person based on their situation, their dress, or some other superficial reason, remember that what you see is not who the person is. What you see is the outer layers of a person who God loves and a person Jesus Christ died to redeem.

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