NEVER judge a book by its cover!You have no idea the whole story of others' lives...
When you look at the finely dressed woman, primped and proper, you would never suspect that she struggles with low self-esteem. Shopping makes her feel better. The store clerks want to please her. She likes that. It makes her feel important...if only for a while.
The young man that is the all-round favourite on campus. The one whose dad is always bragging about to his friends; girls are always flirting with him; teachers seem to always accept his late homework with a smile...This young man is a real charmer, charismatic, thoughtful, and intelligent. He also dresses in woman's clothes and has sought out same sex encounters...in the next city of course. He is empty and desperately looking for something.
The old guy that hits McDonald's every morning and sits in the same booth by the kids' play area, shaves every 3 or 4 days. You'd swear he doesn't own more than two shirts and he just looks creepy. A creature of habit. Same restaurant, same booth, same breakfast...every Monday to Thursday. No one knows he has hundreds of thousands invested here and there which he uses to offer scholarships to underprivileged children. He volunteers at the soup kitchen, washing dishes and serving on others. He also volunteers at the local park as a grounds-keeper. The man is quietly content.
That young girl...quiet, plays the piano at the school concert, does okay in school, attends church with her family every Sunday...She also services her father and her older brother throughout the week. She knows no other life. It (the sex) is not rough, its just how things are. No one suspects anything.
Disturbing? Yeah...the real stories are even more disturbing, but what can we do about it? ...I meant, really? Call CAS? shake a hand? offer counselling? pray? It is easy to judge each of these persons, categorize them, look down upon them as we impose our own expectations upon them and conjure up "solutions" so they can live a more "Christian" life, but...consider...
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor." Matt.7:4-5 (The Message)
How easy is it to pass judgement on any or all of these scenarios? And perhaps as you read these, you were thinking of someone you know? We can spot the obvious as we recognize the injustice in each of these lives, but if someone were to lay out your life in a snippet such as above, how would you feel?
"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. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matt.7:1-3 (NIV)
Often, we think we have it all figured out (and so should they). Every person goes through seasons of hardship and battles, no one is exempt. Take a look at your own life... Take a look at the life of Jesus:
Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. Matt.21:12
One could make the assumption that Jesus had some serious anger management issues. But this is only a snippet, we do know the context to this moment and why Jesus was so enraged. Without the context...well...you get the idea.
So, when tempted to make judgements or assumptions about someone else, remind yourself:
You only know part of the story. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will move you to prayer or spur you to get to know even more of the story of that person...to the glory of God.
By-the-way, the gentleman that frequents McDonalds is a Wiccan.
"We know nothing of the trials, sorrows and temptations of those around us, of pillows wet with sobs, of the life-tragedy that may be hidden behind a smile, of the secret cares, struggles, and worries that shorten life and leave their mark in hair prematurely whitened, and a character changed and almost recreated in a few days. Let us not dare to add to the burden of another the pain of our judgment." ~ William George Jordan