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Julian Beever street art - julianbeever.net

Things are definitely not always what they appear to be.

You’ve heard the maxim, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and “Things aren’t always what they seem”. Also, Jesus said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.”

And don’t forget, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

(Wait. Scratch that last one…)

I am often rash to judge. Are you? Maybe it’s part of my personality. I quickly assess situations and make judgments based on those assessments. I’m a very fast decision maker. This is obviously a good thing when I’m ordering a meal at a restaurant, or when I am leading a group of people (like our tribe of eight) in any organized activity. Quick judgment and decision making can be helpful.

But it’s not always helpful when we are quick to judge.

The other day I was walking out of a store, my mind on seven other things, and I was rather oblivious of my surroundings. I failed to hold the door for people behind me, and though no one was injured by the lack of awareness, I was dismayed by my inconsiderate action. (Or rather, inaction.)

I wondered if they were angry at my rude treatment. I can’t believe he just ignored us! He could have waited one more second! Probably not. They likely did not even notice. (Sadly, it’s not commonplace to show such courtesies to others these days.) But if they did think these things, they were not entirely correct. I was not only distracted by busyness… as I recall, there were some heavy things on my heart. Had anyone who quickly judged my actions as rude, thoughtless, uncaring been privy to the reason for my actions, they likely would have judged much differently.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? We can’t know everything. We simply can not.

There is SO much going on around you. Why did that driver just cut me off? Where is that payment that was promised? Why is that job not finished? Why did she say that!? Why is he looking at me like that? I can’t believe they didn’t call!

Often we quickly pronounce judgement upon people—especially those closest to us—without a fair trial; without any trial! We unconsciously become prosecutor, jury, and judge, with no defense attorney, nor any sort of case presented at all!

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” —Matthew 7:1-3

There are always factors. Sometimes we are informed after the fact and that assuages previous (wrongly held) anger, based on incorrect judgment. Other times we don’t learn more. That doesn’t mean that we are right to judge.

We can not ever know all the factors behind another’s decisions or actions. Not any one of us.

Another slightly humorous example of things not always being what they appear occurred this past weekend, while I was cooling off after a run. I was reading from the book of Mark on our iPhone as I cooled down, and I was walking around the driveway as I did because I wanted to keep my muscles moving. I realized that it must look pretty silly, me being so engrossed in my phone that I can’t even look up to see where I am walking. Someone passing by, with only a few seconds to make a judgment, might perceive me much as I did those people in line at Starbucks, no?

Hmm. Perhaps I should heed my own, “don’t-rush-to-judgement” advice?

To me, the moral of this story is:


Obviously, we need to use our brains to discern right and wrong, and even quickly, or under duress. This is a good thing, judgement.

But maybe the lesson is that we don’t need to judge what other people are doing, so long as it does not involve us at all. And if it does somehow touch upon our lives, maybe we can err on the side of grace seventy times seven times?

There is one judge, and he’s not me. I think I like it that way.

God help me to live peacefully by my own words here, and remember that there are always, always more factors than I can possibly perceive.

And may these things be true of us, as much as we are able:

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! —Romans 12:10-16

That photo at the top of this post is from julianbeever.net. Lots of really cool 3D street art there. Amazing!

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