Judging by Appearances

(John 7:19-24)

old book
You can’t judge a book by it’s cover
Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Loleia

The Jews were seeking to put Jesus to death and He knew it. When confronted they would not admit it, but it was evident in their words, actions and opposition to Jesus.

But for those who followed him, as well as those who did not, he gave this wonderful piece of wisdom. It is a message that we need to remember all of the time, especially as we walk with the Lord.

What You See Is What You Get

How many people do you see who you could describe as “What You See Is What You Get?” Maybe some but not a lot. Everyone has a mask or a face that they present to the world at large and they don’t lower the facade until you get to know them really well. Some never lower it!

But with Jesus there were no masks or facades. He is the Son of God and there is no change in who and what He is. As James wrote, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

No variation, no shadow of a variation due to any change whatsoever. And as it says elsewhere, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Judging A Book By Its Cover

However with man it is not so straightforward. The old saying that you should never judge a book by its cover unfortunately is too often broken. Too many times people judge others without getting to know the truth of that person.

One of the sayings that abounds today, which I detest, is that “The clothes maketh the man.” What an absolute load of rubbish! You can dress an evil person up in an Armani suit and that does not make him good. You could dress a saint in sackcloth and it would not make him bad. You could dress a tycoon up in rags and that would not make him poor, or a beggar in Gucci and it would not make him rich. You could dress a plumber in medical scrubs and it would not make him a surgeon. Do I need to go on?

It is the heart of a person that makes them what he or she is. It is what they believe and how they behave that makes them good or evil, not the threads on their back.

That is why it is so wrong to judge a book by its cover, which is what Jesus was telling us here in verse 24, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Jesus looked to the Jews like a carpenter, but He did not speak like one. He taught the people the ways of God, but He did not look anything like the Pharisees and scribes. You cannot judge a book by its cover or a person by their outward appearances.

Learning to Know the Truth

So how do we know the truth about people? There are a number of ways.

First, it takes time. You will not be able to know a person, usually, when you first meet them. You will need to listen to them and watch them and see whether what they say is what they do.

Second, you need to see how they behave under certain situations, especially stressful ones. Often when under stress or in emotionally charged situations, a person’s true colours come through, whether they are strong or weak, honest or liars, truthful or false.

The Bible teaches us that we will know them by their fruits. So watch and see what a person does. How they behave, what they say, what they do and so on will give pretty good evidence of who they really are. It will also give you a better indication of whether their words can be trusted or not and whether you should listen to what they say or take it with a grain of salt.

As I have said many times in this blog, the truth will make you free. If a person is leading you through words or deeds into bondage, they are not acting or speaking in accord with the truth. This is a great test, especially in relation to what you believe and have faith in with respect to your Christian walk.

There are many false teachers who are not truly seeking the will of God but to feather their own nests. They want followers they can bring into bondage for their own purposes, whether it is for money, power, fame or reputation. That is not the way of God. Seek out those who are looking to serve the Lord without self-seeking motives and listen to them.

(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by loleia)

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