Meridian Star

Religion

June 14, 2014

Think before you judge

MERIDIAN — A preacher was standing at the pulpit giving his Sunday sermon when a note was passed to him. The only word written on the sheet was IDIOT.

    Looking up at the congregation, the preacher smiled and said, "I have heard of men who write letters and forget to sign their names but this is the first time I see a man sign his name and forget to write the letters."

    I know that we have all reacted to something we saw or heard and formed an opinion before we had all the facts. A premature opinion is like a cake that is only half-baked. It isn't suitable for sharing.

    On the other hand, if we take time to learn more, then we can respond thoughtfully rather than react based on partial information or prejudice.

    Perhaps you carry prejudice, which means you "pre-judge." We all tend to do some of this, don't we? I do this today when I see people dressed like Muslims. I wonder, "Are they violent? Do they condone kidnapping girls?" Of course, not all are like that. I have to resist personal prejudice while fairly judging the merits of their religion. Of course, I choose Christ.

    I remember entering a convention hall years ago in Dallas where many Pentecostal pastors of thousand-member churches were assembling. I saw the long hair, the old fashioned clothing, heard the religious vernacular, and I became critical. The Lord rebuked me saying, "These men have withstood principalities for Me. Don't judge them." I immediately repented and then was able to enjoy the remainder of the conference.

    Can you fairly judge a person by their looks? Suppose you saw a disheveled man in your church service. He is barefoot, scorched by the sun, has a scruffy beard, and looks a bit wild. You even wonder if he smells bad. Who is he?

    A poor vagabond? An alcoholic homeless man? Would you have ushers show him to the door? Would you alert security?

    What if I told you I had just described John the Baptist? A preacher friend of mine once dressed like a hobo when he showed up for a conference as the main speaker, just to illustrate how we all quickly judge the poor.

    Whether we are reacting to a strange person or to a new idea, wisdom would teach us to not jump to any conclusions. Just because someone looks out of place doesn't mean they don't belong. Just because some thought is not familiar, doesn't mean it isn't a wonderful new thing or worthy idea.

    Take time to understand, to consider. Honest evaluation means you wait, you withhold a hasty judgment until you prove the facts or know the real story. A quick reaction may make you say something you will regret. Think before you speak.

    "Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise."

    Ron Wood is a pastor, writer, and a former resident of Meridian. Contact him at wood.stone.ron@gmail.com.

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