Many years ago, I was a young officer with a real estate company that had a wide range of properties for sale. A man walked in one day and asked if he could speak with someone about buying one of the listed properties.
He was ushered into a meeting room and, when I walked in, seeing that he was clad in a T-shirt and Bermudas, I asked him rudely if he had the means to purchase the property in question. You see, I was totally unimpressed by his appearance.
I’ll never forget what happened next. The man had with him a paper bag and from it, took out a whole stack of share certificates that I estimated was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I immediately said to him, “Do you want tea or coffee?” I’d made a terrible mistake judging a book by its cover but was glad I made it whilst I was young. It was something I learnt early in life – that those who had the most worth were usually the least interested in flaunting them.
One of the biggest mistakes that we make in life is to judge by what we see. We judge people by how we perceive them or what we hear about them. We judge a people’s group often by what we read. We judge by appearance, we judge by their speech.
But we’re told in Scriptures that, when Jesus was on this earth, He did not judge by the seeing of the eyes nor hearing of the ears. Instead, He judged with righteous judgment.
The reason why we’re exhorted not to judge by eye or ear is because things are not always what they seem. We often do not know the backstory.
We do not know the circumstances that people go through or why they act in a certain way. But if we’d only learn how to sit where they sit before saying anything, we’d learn so much more.
The God we serve is the most unpretentious, un-boastful Person we’ll ever know. Much of the work He does is unseen. If you read the Book of Ruth, you’ll find that the nation of Israel was in disarray. It was in total confusion. Everyone did what was right in his or her own eyes. There was a complete breakdown of law and order.
If you were living in those days, you’d conclude that God was on vacation and He really did not care. But, if you pulled back the curtains, you’d discover God working fastidiously backstage to prepare Israel for the next season.
He visits a Moabitess named Ruth and prepares her for the most amazing adventure of her life. She marries Boaz and, in the next three generations, produces a grandson named David who would become Israel’s finest and greatest king.
We see it again in the Book of Esther, when a dark period of extermination of the Jewish race became a probability. But, if you looked behind the veil, you’d see God working and planning to completely overturn the evil schemes of His enemy.
It’s very easy for us to judge God and say, “Where are You or where were You when we were undergoing this?” He was, in the most unassuming way, working behind the scenes to ensure not just your future or survival, but your destiny too. God is at work and we often do not perceive it.
So the next time you’re tempted to pass judgment or a snide remark about someone or something. or criticise the authorities – spiritual or governmental, stop, pause, selah and be slow to speak. Don’t allow a judgmental spirit to overtake you. And, never judge a book by its cover.