Do you size people up when you walk into a room? I do. It’s important to be aware of our surroundings, but sometimes I take it too far.
A few years ago, I took in a scene at a pizza restaurant and passed judgment on a woman I’d never met.
Our three boys marched between the tables, their pace accelerating to the point I thought they might trip over themselves as they approached the play area. As Jerry led me toward an empty table, I took a glance at a woman seated nearby.
Here’s what I saw
- She was large.
- She was alone. There was no sign of someone else’s belongings on the seat to indicate anyone accompanied her.
- She was eating a piece from a huge, family size pizza.
- She didn’t appear to be happy.
I concluded the woman must be a person who was out of control with her eating and her life, that she worships food and thinks only of herself. And I went so far as to judge her as someone I wouldn’t want for a friend.
Why do we judge?
Jesus said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24 ESV).
He also said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 ESV).
The truth might actually be
- She was enjoying pizza in celebration of an 80-pound weight loss.
- She had been fasting, or this was her first meal in a long time.
- She would eat one piece and save the rest for later.
- She needed a kind word from a friend.
The scriptures tell me if I judge I must be careful how I do it. One definition I found says judging is forming an opinion after careful thought. I hadn’t given much thought to the woman’s reality. And I certainly wasn’t looking at her with God’s love and compassion.
It’s possible she may be far ahead of me in her walk with God. She may be withstanding trials and hardships and remaining true to her faith far better than I am at the moment. There was probably much I could learn from her.
Since it was decades ago, and I don’t remember what she looked like, she could be one of my dear friends today. If that is true, I’m sure if she passed judgment on me that day, she is forgiving. How could we be friends if she wasn’t?
by Kathy Sheldon Davis