Many of you know the story of socks and Christmas in my family. The tradition of Christmas socks began before we had children. In fact, it happened the Christmas before we were married. My mother-in-law gave all of the girls clothes, jewelry, and some other pretty nice presents. I unwrapped my boxes to find socks. Honestly, they weren’t even good socks. They were just plain old brown socks.
If they were crazy socks with weird patterns, bright colors, or interesting designs that would have been okay. But they were just plain old socks. I wasn’t too happy until I looked a little closer. These weren’t just any socks—they were socks filled with fifty and hundred dollar bills! Suddenly, I had a complete attitude change. I loved getting socks!
We judge people the same way. At first glance, we may decide we just don’t like someone. Maybe it’s the way they dress. Maybe it’s the tattoos they have visible on their arms or legs. Maybe it’s the earring in their nose or the weird pink streak colored down the side of their head. Maybe it’s their skin color. For whatever reason, we look at someone and think to ourselves, “I don’t want to get to know them” or, “where did they come from?”
The sad difference between those types of judgments and my socks is that we commonly forget to look deeper. We use that initial reaction to make a judgment and we stick to it. We reject that person with the intent that we never see them or speak to them again. The reality is that even though we know it is poor practice to judge a book by its cover, we typically judge people by theirs.
The Pharisees made the same type of decisions in their day. The Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors (Matt. 9:10–11). Tax collectors were sinners and often were associated with prostitutes and other lost causes of the culture of that day (Matt. 21:31). While these judgments were based on the common knowledge that many tax collectors accepted bribes and were extortionists, the fact remains that not all of them were. The apostle Matthew was a tax collector. Zacchaeus was a tax collector as well. Both men are spoken of favorably by the Lord. But Jesus, unlike the Pharisees, looked beyond their title and occupation to see them for who they really were.
Perhaps the words of Jesus in Matthew 9 should be a reminder to us on how we judge: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (v. 12). If we become so arrogant and proud in our assessment of others, what it really reflects is our perception of ourselves—that we believe we are better than others. It shows we think we are more spiritual than others. Jesus taught the Pharisees that those who think they are well won’t receive His blessings. Could that be us?
The next time you are tempted to judge someone based on their appearance or some other shallow characteristic, resist the urge. Take the time to get to know them. Look beyond the surface. And remember, everyone has a soul that needs to be saved.