Years ago a young girl sat at the counter of a diner and asked the waitress, “How much is an ice cream sundae?” “Fifty cents,” answered the waitress, without even glancing at the child. The young girl opened her fist, looked at her coins, and asked, “Then how much is a bowl of plain ice cream?” Annoyed, the waitress snapped, “Thirty-five cents.” The girl carefully counted out thirty-five cents, handed it to the waitress, and said, “I’ll take the plain ice cream.” The waitress took the money without a word and brought the ice cream. But after the little girl had eaten and left, when the waitress went to clean up the area, she was overcome by a wave of shame. There, placed neatly beside the empty bowl, were two nickels and five pennies – her tip.
It’s so easy to make snap judgments of others, isn’t it? We only have to be around someone new for a few minutes, even seconds, before we have them stereotyped and appropriately categorized in our minds. We judge on the basis of clothes, hairstyles, language skill, dialect, and the way a person carries himself or herself. We do it every day without even thinking about it. It just comes naturally to us. But what does God say about the issue? You’ll find your answer in the following verses:
1. Deuteronomy 1:16-17 (Moses speaking to the people of Israel): “Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great…”
2. Proverbs 24:23: “These things also belong to the wise: It is not good to show partiality in judgment.”
3. John 7:24 (Jesus speaking): “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
4. James 2:1-4: “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”
Let’s all confess our sin in this area and make some real progress at repenting of it. Let’s stop assessing a person’s entire history and future by way of a fifteen-second conversation or a casual look. People are more complex than we realize, and they don’t fit so neatly into the limited number of pigeon-holes we use. Showing any kind of partiality is not good, and we must start seeing it for the problem that it is in our whole approach to dealing with others.