On the Surface
Have you ever found yourself doing something for surface appearances, simply because you were afraid of what others might think if you did not? It might be something as simple as putting on a smile when down deep you didn’t feel like it. Or the sudden change in tone that comes about when you get a phone call in the middle of correcting your children. You know that call that comes where you suddenly transform yourself from the horrific Mr. Hyde into the respected Dr. Jekyll as your children watch in awe of the surface transformation and are praising God that the phone rang.
This week, I agreed to host a meeting in my home with two people who I knew only in professional means and they in turn were bringing two additional people who I didn’t know at all. I found myself in somewhat of a frantic race to change the surface appearance of our home. I felt I needed to get my house cleaned and ready for guests because I couldn’t let them know that we actually lived in the house. We are usually pretty tidy but I have been very busy and my helpers have not been around as much either so admittedly things have declined somewhat in the cleanliness category of our home.
My fear of being judged as a poor housekeeper kicked in and so I quickly called in the troops and we cleaned the public rooms like ants marching to a picnic. The goal was to anticipate what rooms the guests may enter and to make sure they were more than presentable. The surfaces must appear to be clean, immaculate, and basically unlived-in as if this was our normal way of life.
We worked hard and finished only 30 minutes prior to the arrival of the guests for the meeting. Because this was a business meeting we wound up meeting in the kitchen at the table so writing was made easier. No one went anywhere else in the house not even the bathroom. My concern for judgment was all for nothing and the surfaces beyond this one room mattered not.
How many times do we work ourselves up because we fear being judged on the surface? Maybe this fear lies with the fact that we are just as guilty of surface judging others, so we expect to be treated the same way. I read a story this week that published some time ago in the newsletter, Our America, about Dodie Gadient who learned a valuable lesson about surface judgments.
Dodie was a school teacher who decided after teaching thirteen years to travel across America and see some of the sights she had taught her students. She traveled alone in a truck with a camper that she towed.
One afternoon as she rounded a curve on I-5 near Sacramento, California in rush hour traffic, a water pump blew on her truck. She found herself tired, frustrated, and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping. She leaned up against her trailer and began to pray, ”Please God, send me an angel and one preferably with mechanical experience.”
Well, God answers prayers and within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up ridden by an enormous man with long, black hair, a beard, and tattooed arms. With an incredible air of confidence, the man jumped off and without even glancing at Dodie, went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy, and whisked the whole 56 foot rig off the freeway and to a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump.
The schoolteacher was too intimidated to speak and so she watched dumbfounded at everything that was going on. Causing even further intimidation was the paralyzing words on the back of the man’s leather jacket, ”Hell’s Angels ”“ California”.
As the man finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, ”Thanks so much,” and carry on a brief conversation. Noticing her surprise at the whole ordeal, the man looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, ”Don’t judge a book by its cover. You may not know who you’re talking to.” With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck and straddled his Harley and with a wave, he was gone as fast as he had appeared.
Dodie judged the man only by the surface based on nothing more than his appearance and the words read on the back of his jacket. As she watched the man work she realized that there was more. How often do we surface judge or live our lives because we are afraid someone else will surface judge us?
In this week’s focus verse, Jesus tells us to judge according to the spirit and purpose of the Word instead of how we see things. This verse teaches us that we must see past the surface of people to understand them but that is not the only lesson this verse teaches. It also teaches us that Jesus is more than He appears and we must look beyond the surface of His miracles if we truly want to understand what He is about and who He really is.
When we dig deeper than the miracles we see the real Jesus revealed. When we move beyond the surface of what we see we can understand better that He sees our hearts clearly and judges all freely with forgiveness. Our goal in our walk with God is to become more Christ-like and so in turn we must look at others like Christ. This would be beneath the surface, seeking to find their hearts and when judgment is necessary looking to the Word and judging freely with forgiveness.
Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly. John 7:24 (NLT)
Beneath the Surface
When I look to Jesus I must look to Him as something greater than a miracle worker and truly see Him, as God, knowing that He sees me by my heart and not by my surface appearance. Since my goal is to glorify God while becoming more Christ-like then I must also strive to see others beyond their surface appearances or hearsay statements. I must withhold surface judgment simply because someone is different from me. It is necessary that I learn to understand people first and then judge only according to the Scripture. With judgment though comes great responsibility and the requirement to apply forgiveness freely.
This is a daily reminder for me as I strive to be more Christ-like with each step I take. In order for me to move beyond the surface I have to see Jesus beneath the surface and as more than a miracle producer. I must see Him for who He is, God. When I do this, my attitude will change beneath the surface too, leading me closer to Christ.
The people of the temple looked no further than the surface and their judgement of Jesus was wrong. Jesus corrected them by telling them they cannot assume the great position of God. They must instead surrender their life to live out the Word of God. Our judgments will reflect how we see things, so we must look beyond the surface to the depths of understanding, beginning with the Word of God and ourselves.
There was once an old wise man who sat at the gate of an ancient city. A young traveler stopped before entering the city and asked the wise man, ”What kind of people live in this town?” The wise man answered with a question, ”What kind of people were in the town you just came from?”
”Oh, they were liars, cheats, thugs, and drunks; terrible people,” the young traveler replied. The old man shook his head, ”The people in this town are the same way.”
Later another stranger paused to ask the same question, and again the wise man questioned him with a question, ”What kind of people did you just leave?” The second traveler answered, “Oh I left a fine town. The people were good, kind, honest, and hardworking.” The wise man smiled and said, ”The people in this town are the same way.”
People who are kind and forgiving toward others usually experience tolerance from others themselves and those who are harsh and critical toward others will find that others show much the same disposition toward them. Our judgment effects how we see things. How do you see others? More importantly how do you see Jesus?
This week the focus verse challenges you to see Jesus for who He is, God. It convicts you to be more like Him and not judge others by what you see and hear but to understand who they are and only judge others according to the Word of God which also means freely, with the blessed application of forgiveness. You can be comforted because Jesus will not judge you by what is seen and heard but only by your heart. When He intercedes for you, judgment will not only be fair but given freely with forgiveness for He has already paid the price for those who believe in Him.
Have a great week and remember, look beneath the surface to all people you meet allowing your heart to change your attitude.
Love in Christ,
There is a poem that says:
Don’t’ find fault with the man who limps or stumbles along the road, unless you have worn the shoes he wears or struggled beneath his load.
There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt, though hidden away from view. Or the burden he bears, if placed on your back, might cause you to stumble too.
What are Your Thoughts? Join Us in Discussion
Do you look beneath the surface when you see other people? Do you find yourself revealing only the surface due to the fear of other’s judgement? Do you struggle with finding judgment in others without applying the Word of God? Do you see Christ for who He really is? Do you judge freely and fairly and then apply forgiveness? Join us in discussion as we look beneath the surface of all.