Summary: Don’t take people at face value and so become a stupid judge and a judged sinner. Instead, be quick to love even those you might prejudge as unworthy.
I’ll never forget what has become one of my all-time favorite TV commercials, shown during Super Bowl 39 over 12 years ago (February 6, 2005). The Ameriquest Mortgage Company sponsored the commercial, and it came with a powerful message. Take a look… (show Americaquest Cat Commercial video)
A man is preparing a romantic dinner. He chops vegetables with a large knife, while tomato sauce simmers on the stove. A white cat knocks the pan of sauce onto the floor and then falls into the mess. Just as the man picks up his tomato-splattered cat, his wife opens the door. She sees him holding a cat dripping with red sauce in one hand and a large knife in the other.
Then the message, “Don’t judge too quickly” flashes on the screen. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZL2oi0_Pg8)
Don’t judge too quickly; for when you do, you can assume the worst when the best is intended. Sometimes, in your pain, you can make snap judgments, which you later regret. This is an issue that James addresses in his book, which is about passing the tests of life. So if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to James 2, James 2, which describes what happens when you judge too quickly.
James 2:1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. (ESV)
The word for “partiality” comes from two Greek words: one which means “face”; and the other which means “take”. So literally, the Bible says…
DON’T TAKE PEOPLE AT FACE VALUE.
Don’t judge a person by what you see on the surface. In other words, don’t judge too quickly. Or don’t pre-judge before you have a chance to really get to know someone below the surface.
This is especially important for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory! You see, on the surface, He wasn’t much to look at. Isaiah says, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by man; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:2-3).
Jesus was rejected by many, but His rejection became our salvation! Isaiah 53 goes on to say, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). Jesus took the punishment for our sins on the cross, but soon after that He arose from the dead, demonstrating beyond a shadow of doubt that He is the Lord of Glory!
Many people judged Him too quickly; and as a result, they ended up rejecting the Lord Himself! But not you! You trusted Jesus with your life, and now you are getting to know Him for who He really is, whom to know is life eternal!
You did not take Jesus at face value. So don’t take others at face value either. Don’t judge too quickly.
A recent study by a couple of researchers at the University of Toronto and at James Madison University in Virginia demonstrates our tendency to do just that, to judge people simply by what we see on the surface.
Jonah Lehrer, one of the researchers says we all have what he calls “bias blind spots” no matter how smart we think we are. In fact, his research found that “a larger bias blind spot was associated with higher cognitive ability.” That’s because there's a mismatch between how we evaluate others and how we evaluate ourselves. Lehrer writes:
When considering the irrational choices of a stranger, for instance, we are forced to rely on [how they behave]; we see their biases from the outside, which allows us to glimpse their [errors]. However, when assessing our own bad choices, we tend to engage in elaborate introspection. We [study] our motivations and search for relevant reasons; we lament our mistakes to therapists and ruminate on the beliefs that led us astray.
For example, if we drive crazy through traffic it's because we have an important meeting or we don't do it that often, and so forth. But if someone else cuts us off in traffic there's one simple, observable explanation: he's a jerk. Lehrer concludes “[our bias blind spots] are largely unconscious, which means they remain invisible to self-analysis and [resistant] to intelligence.” In other words, being smarter won't help you see your own junk. As a matter of fact, more intelligence may actually add to the problem. (“Cognitive Sophistication Does Not Attenuate the Bias Blind Spot,” Journal of Sociology and Personal Psychology, September 2012, 103(3), pp.506-519, as cited by Craig Gross, Open, Thomas Nelson, 2013, pp. 139-141; www.PreachingToday.com)