by Pastor Tim Burt
Don’t you hate when you do something stupid? I do. I recently did something that I thought I had for the most part, eliminated from my life and it bothered me that I did it. What is it that I did? I drew an inaccurate, preconceived picture of someone in my heart before really knowing him.
Romans 14:10 NIV says, “You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”
Some years back, I introduced myself to a gentleman who was serving at church who I hadn’t formally met before. We talked for a while and he seemed like a sincerely nice man. As we talked, I learned that he’d been faithfully serving in church for some time. I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t met him before. As we continued to talk, I learned that he was the owner of a very large business that had made him very wealthy. I was impressed! Not because he was wealthy or successful, but because of his commitment to serve just like anyone else. Successful people may be great financial givers and that is hugely appreciated, but finding a place in the church to give their supply of time is oundational to a person’s spiritual development. As a Pastor, the spiritual development of people is extremely important to me. People that attain status and wealth as he had, often make excuses why they can’t be involved serving at church. Their excuses truly do seem legitimate, as they are extremely busy. Yet, God says that we all have a supply to give to the body of Christ, and so He desires us all to figure it out, no matter how important and busy we are. This man was one of those exceptions that didn’t classify himself as someone special. He humbly served in his church where needed. That formed a great impression of him in my heart.
A month later, while out to dinner with an acquaintance, his name came up. I started to share how impressed I had been in getting to know him and why. The guy I was having dinner with quickly shared how this guy had a many problems in his life and marriage. The things said, were said quickly and I didn’t cut them off because they hit my compassion button. I didn’t think of them as gossip. I was feeling impressed to pray over him and his family. I was told that his wealth was the root of their problems. I didn’t realize a negative impression was being laid and tainting the original impression I had of him, but it was. Because I didn’t know him very well and because of what I heard, I wrongly believed what I was told, that he wasn’t a very good husband or family man. Shame on me!
A few months later, through circumstances I won’t go into, I got to know him much better and over time, developed a friendship with him. As I got to know this man, I was mad at myself for that period of time I carried a wrong impression of him. I had let someone else taint that impression. This gentleman was who I thought he was! This man came to know the Lord as a young child and had served Jesus every day of his life since. Despite his success, he was a very humble and fine Christian man and a role model for other men. He has a loving wife who loves him very much and beautiful children that love God. He also has a passion to serve God. His fruit was always before me.
As it turns out, the person that put these thoughts in my heart is the one that has his own dysfunctional issues to deal with. It turns out that he that frequently puts other down and has a messed up life.
I thought I knew how to guard my heart from allowing someone to paint preconceived ideas about others within me. I have found out that I’m still occasionally a victim of it. It grieves me when I fall in this trap. It’s never on purpose and I hate when it happens. God help me!
Romans 14:10 says, “You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother?” These are good questions. The answer is simple. We shouldn’t. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (RSV) says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” “…believes all things” means to have respect for and look for the best in people. This is why gossip is so ugly. It looks for the worst in people! And this is why I don’t like people to paint negative pictures of others to me. Their perspective may be off or tainted by some misunderstanding or offense they are carrying, or because of their own dysfunctional perceptions. Who knows?
Listening to gossip and judging others can hurt you the most. It can rob you of great friendships that you hold yourself back from because of wrongly and mistakenly judging someone. I thank God that He helped me become better acquainted with this man. I am thankful that God’s Word is alive and working in me so that instead of judging or forming wrong impressions of others, I can instead judge myself and hold onto my God-instructed habit of believing the best in others and let them taste the love of God that I pray flows through me!
John 7:24 (NKJV) “ Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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