There’s a guy in a group I’m a part of who’s very quiet. He’s very thoughtful; that is, he’s a thinker. But he is seemingly unfriendly and aloof. When he talks, he speaks articulately and he makes you want to listen. He speaks with passion, but almost with anger. He seems sad. Angry and sad. Or just plain sad.
If you were to meet him on the street or in the store, you might be offended by his gruff attitude. You might just write him off. He wouldn’t be the ideal person to try to befriend, or even have coffee with. He just sort of rubs you the wrong way.
Everything I’ve described is about a real person and yet it may describe someone you’ve encountered. I think we all have. But the thought process I’ve just gone through is something that Jesus warns against: judging others.
Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:21-24, NLT)
There are other verses in which Jesus warns against judging, but in this passage, he says that sometimes we have to dig deeper. We have to use some discernment. There’s probably more happening than first meets the eye.
So it is with the folks we encounter each and every day. The grumpy cashier behind the counter. The waitress that seems frazzled. The guy in men’s group that seems aloof. They all have stories and some of those stories involve tragedies. Some of their stories involve divorce. Some of their stories include getting a bad test result or the sudden passing of a loved one.
As James Bryan Smith says in The Good and Beautiful Life, “Philo of Alexandria is quoted as saying, ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.’ ”
Sometimes, I simply have no clue. Lord, give me eyes to see what you see, ears to hear what you hear, and a heart to feel what you feel. And then, the obedience to respond to your leading.