Thursday, December 01, 2005

stereotypical judging

Matthew 7:1-2
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

I have read this verse for years, and failed to really understand it. Do not judge, blah blah blah.

Recently, it suddenly made a whole lot of sense in light of three people with whom I became acquainted. In one of my college classes, four people sit at a table with me. The first is someone who has more than a few piercings and who I immediately stereotyped as weird. The second is someone who enjoys skiing. I steretyped him as a ski dude, and assumed that he might be very apathetical. The third is a girl I stereotyped her as a cheerleader type girl. I felt disappointed that these people wouldn't really be people I was interested in getting to know.

Amazing what a little bit of first impression does to me. Over the course of the last couple months, my stereotypes have been almost completely ruined. Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink had it wrong. My 'thinslicing' proved almost 100% inaccurate.

The weirdo turned out to be one of the most polite, helpful guys I have known. He is very smart and friendly, and honestly, I barely see all the piercings now.

The ski dude turned out to also be very smart, interested in life, and someone who really takes a genuine interest in other people's lives.

Finally, the cheerleader girl, was a whole bundle of surprises. She can be very sweet, friendly, sympathetic. Although I gave her a cheerleader stereotype, she's whizzed through a bunch of college level calculus, and got a job at Mervyn's just a week after I quit Mervyn's. The kicker: some of our political views coincide. The person I had 'tagged' as someone I probably wouldn't get to know, turns out to be someone more like me than I thought.

John 7:24
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

What have I learned?

I've learned that my experience is just one of those reasons why Christians are not called to judge. I nearly missed out on three new friends.

A second major reason we are called not to judge is because pagans have no hope. Where would I be without Jesus? Where would I be if God hadn't chosen me?

James 2:13
"So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment."

Even if people are 'unlovely' and unlikely to become Christians, it is all the more reason to demonstrate love to them. They have no hope.

James 4:12
"There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?"

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