As of late I have noticed a most disconcerting habit that I have. I feel like it is one that most of us have, though I think that we don't realize it. I have noticed that I am an expert at judging people. Here is an example to demonstrate my point.
Today in church there was a man that was there visiting. He was the father of a couple that had just recently had a baby, so he was obviously there for that happy occasion. However, he did not have the normal appearance of a regular churchgoer. He had bushy, longish hair, he was unshaven, and was just wearing a colored button up shirt, open at the top, without a tie. On top of that he wore a windbreaker. I also noticed that his son (the brother of the woman that had the baby) was there in just a coat, some jeans, and a hoodie.
As I looked at them from my perch at the piano, I began to formulate all of these possible opinions of who they could be. Let me share with you my thought process. "Wow, I wonder if they're even members? They could have gone inactive, maybe they're just here for the baby. But that's nice of them to come all the way up here from wherever they live. I can't believe he'd come dressed like that, though! Couldn't he have told his son to wear something a little more church appropriate? This could be a really awkward lesson if he has some weird religious views that he's going to share with us..." And so on...
While it is rather embarrassing, to say the least, to share these thoughts with you, I hope it illustrates a point. Do we not all do this? Do we not make judgment calls on people, based solely on their appearance? It turned out that this man was very spiritual and had some very good insights and testimonies that greatly benefited the lesson. He is an active member of the church with a great love for his new little grandbaby. I am quite ashamed to think that I even thought of those things of him.
My point is this: we have no idea who people are. We cannot fathom even a fraction of what they have gone through in their life that has made them who they are. So who are we to judge them, to assume that they are "this type of person", just because they look like it, or the circumstance in which we find them implies that that is the kind of person they are? That is not for us to decide.
Here is how I wish my mind would have reacted to those people: "Wow, how awesome that this brother brought his father-in-law and brother-in-law to church! I'll have to go introduce myself and make sure they feel welcome." Nothing else. I cannot make any judgment call about them because I do not know them at all.
Brothers and Sisters, there is one judgment call you can make, however. This is the one that God does allow us to make, and it is the one that we should always make. We should see others not as different than us, with different morals or values or whatever, but we should see them as our spiritual brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God. They are no different from you or me in God's eyes. So why should it be any different from our perspective?
In this time of giving and love and Christmas, I would invite us all to stop judging. Stop thinking bad thoughts about that person who cut in front of you in line, or getting angry at the person who was 15 minutes late for an appointment you had, or being irritated at the pedestrian who decides to walk slowly across the crosswalk in front of you. We are all sons and daughters of God, and we all chose to come to this earth for the same reason, to eventually make it back to God. I promise that as you think of others this way, it will change your attitude towards life and will bring much your happiness into your mortal sojourn on this earth.