Here are five ways that we often misjudge people.
When Samuel the Prophet was seeking the next king of Israel, God told him that it would be one of the sons of Jesse, so Jesse struts out all the “big boys” first. Most of us would have thought, “Wow, he’s 6, 3, 200 pounds, and looks every bit the part of a king,” however God told Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1st Sam 16:7). God ended up choosing what most of us would call “the runt of the litter,” but King David would be Israel’s greatest earthly king (next to Jesus of course).
Every one of us grows at different rates. Just like the farmer’s field near our home, one stalk is twice as tall as the other, but both stalks are corn…and both will bear the fruit of their labor in the fall. Corn will be harvested from them both, so just like in nature, each of us has a different rate of growth. Sanctification takes it’s good sweet time in us…some grow quicker…some slower, but we must respect others and the rate in which God is growing them in holiness. We must allow them to grow at their own rate as God sees fit. We are not the ones who planted the seed. Don’t judge people by their words because you have not walked in their shoes. Neither have I.
Experience is a very good teacher, but sometimes our experiences don’t bring about the same results as other people’s experiences do, therefore it’s very easy to midjudge people based upon our own experiences. We can judge them too harshly if they’ve been in trouble with the law or been homeless. We can’t ever think, “They had it coming to them.” That’s not Christ-like. One of the problems is we haven’t lived their life. Their life is unique to them just as ours is to us.
The Apostle Paul tells us that it’s unwise to judge ourselves by others or to judge others by our own standards. We are not the standard; Jesus Christ is! Apparently there were some who were trying to run Paul down (2nd Cor 10:1), so Paul writes that “when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2nd Cor 10:12). It’s as if they’re saying, “I’m better than you, because….” The church at Corinth was even fighting over who was the best preacher (1st Cor 3:4). We can misjudge people by comparing them to others or to ourselves and our own standards (imperfect as they are).
I don’t recall the number of times when I assumed the worst but it turned out the best or when I assumed someone was late because it was their fault, was something that they had no control over. This may be part of what Paul says is what love is; “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1st Cor 13:7). It bears with others by not assuming the worst. It believes “all things” by giving people the benefit of the doubt. It hopes the best at all times, and “endures all things,” even when things don’t turn out right.
I plead guilty to judging people by sight but I repented of it and am now committed, like our church is, to not judging anyone who comes in, regardless of what they’re wearing or what they look like. Of course, we can’t allow nudity or drugs in, but we don’t judge others by what they’re wearing, the number of tattoos, earrings, haircut, or their background. We don’t trip over what’s behind us. The foot of the cross is level ground, meaning we are all standing on the same level. I think God would be pleased with us if we accept others just as they are, because He accepted us as we once were; at one time, enemies of God (Rom 5:10).