We humans frequently under-estimate people because of the way they appear to us. If they look unattractive or sloppy, or if we decide in our minds that they’re unintelligent, we mentally put them in a certain category and treat them accordingly. Such judgmental attitudes have always been part of the human psyche, but perhaps they’re particularly rife in this shallow, materialistic, image-driven twenty-first century culture…
Conversely, we often over-estimate people when we think they’re visually attractive, or if they seem to be wealthy and powerful. This weakness in human nature spawns untold multitudes of bad relationships, heartbreaks, and if we’re honest, poor politics.
I once wrote about my invention, “Romance and the The Pain to Pleasure Ratio” (you can search for the post at the top of this page). This is a little mind-powered device which, when used correctly, helps eliminate many of those poor relationships and poor choices before they happen!
Judging someone by their appearance is a sign of a fallen and godless mind, because:
“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
I realized long ago that I appear to be quite dim (and unattractive) to most people, because I find I’m not trusted to do things or have an opinion. I’m often told how to do things that most people are able to do in the normal course of a day. People speak down to me, and I’ve had to try to learn the art of patience and graciousness in these situations. Hey, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and clear up all doubt”.
Imagine how many disabled people are treated by others who see themselves as being superior…
I hate being told how to do something, particularly when I’ve already made a living at it for years. I’ve also found that if I do things in a different way to the “normal” way I’m assumed to be a dolt and an ignoramus. When I receive such “expert” advice or obvious disapproval I’m most composed and”gracious” when I have more faith in my God. He is my judge: no man or woman is. Beyond that, the old axiom “To thine own self be true” is an invaluable one to live by, every single day. And to tell the truth, I’m very pleased to know that I don’t look, think, or act as convention demands.
I take comfort in the knowledge that many of my favorite Bible characters were treated in the same way. Just look at how poor Elijah fared against Jezebel. Think about Joseph being rejected and sold into slavery by his brothers. Imagine how Paul felt, having willingly fallen from his original lofty public standing, to struggle against opposition from all sides. This opposition sometime came even from Church dignitaries who considered themselves to be superior, who said of him:
“His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Corinthians 10:10 NIV).
Paul’s response was of faith and pragmatism:
“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (verses 17 and 18).
Paul’s manner was intentionally one of humility-as much as he could muster. He did not go about trying to impress people:
“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling…” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
The ultimate example of poor judgment and undeserved treatment is of course in the way that powerful, influential, wealthy people condemned Jesus Christ. Having been delivered to the Romans, he stood silent in front of Pilate, offering himself as a sacrifice to the Father, and so refusing to even defend himself. Pilate said to him:
“Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you realize I have power to either free you or crucify you?” (John 19:10-11).
So we-I-have a few lessons to learn. First, I must be slow to make judgments about others based on how they appear to my human way of thinking. Second, when I’m being judged (or mis-judged), I have to ask myself what the will of my God is in the situation. Third, I need to think like Paul, who said:
“As for those who seemed to be important-whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance” (Galatians 2:6).
Lastly, I need to rest in the knowledge that I’m already accepted by my God, and that his love is unconditional.