My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):
Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
I’m sure you’ve heard, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” Well, it’s true and untrue. Many people will make judgments on a book by its cover. They will look at the title, the artwork, the endorsements of the book itself, and the author. But what really determines a book is not the cover, but the content. The same is true with the Christian life.
Over the years I have learned that many of us are excellent at looking like Christians. Perhaps we attend worship weekly, work in a soup kitchen or volunteer our time at some service agency. If someone were to look at us from a distance they might conclude that we are perfect Christians. However, I believe all of us struggle with the issue of judging others before we have walked a mile in the other person’s shoes.
Case in point: I recently met a co-worker I had previously only communicated with through email. According to folks in my office who had worked closely with this person in the past, the co-worker was mean and difficult to work with. Well, the person I met and the person I had heard about turned out to be two completely different people!
This individual was kind, soft-spoken, brilliant, and a follower of Christ. Wow, were my sources ever wrong! So my perceptions were mistaken. How sad it would have been to have lived my whole life believing the false reports. Remember, Israel had to stay in the wilderness for forty years after believing false reports from ten of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land. It is somehow in our nature more acceptable to believe bad reports than good ones.
Outward appearances are poor criteria upon which to make conclusions about anyone. And other testimonies can be false as well. Judge not that ye be not judged! These are strong words and a powerful commandment from our Lord. Oh, and one thing more: bearing a false witness about someone else is also a sin.
Thought for the day: We want people to be patient and kind when dealing with our shortcomings, but do we grant the same in dealing with others? Before we pass judgment on anyone else regarding their shortcomings, we must ask ourselves the question, “Are we guilty of the same thing that we are about to condemn?”
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.