Someone I know recently had a fascinating experience. She was relocated from a shared space area to an office of her own. This was not the result of a promotion or any other change in employment status. It was simply a reallocation of space for efficiency. But it’s a very nice office and she feels blessed to have it. Then, something interesting happened. The co-workers she used to share a workspace with were coming to her with questions and treating her as though she was a supervisor. They know that isn’t the case. Yet a person sitting behind a desk in an office gives them the feeling that they are talking to someone who is suddenly more important than she was in a shared space. Why?
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:1-4 (NIV)
We seem to be pre-programmed to judge based on appearance. That’s apparently true even when people know the appearance isn’t reality. An office doesn’t make someone a manager. But anyone who has gone to a manager’s office for decades in a workplace setting may be forgiven for not distinguishing between the person and the workspace. As we see from James above, we also often do the same thing in reverse.
How easy is it to judge someone because we consider them dirty, disheveled or poorly dressed? Or by the vintage of the car they drive? Or where they live? Singer/songwriter Matthew West capture’s this tendency perfectly in his song “Truth Be Told:”
“There’s a sign on the door, says, “Come as you are” but I doubt it. Cause if we lived like it was true, every Sunday morning pew would be crowded.”
Are we as Christ-followers always comfortable in church when someone really does “come as they are?” Conversely, do we judge church buildings by their appearance; assuming bigger and newer is “better?” In 1 Samuel 16:7 seven sons of Jesse passed before Samuel. He thought any of them could be king. But God’s pick, David, wasn’t presented at first. That is when God tells Samuel: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
We must get to know people before we can know their heart. That means seeing them as God does, ignoring outward appearance. May we allow God’s Spirit to move us to treat people that way and may we be blessed to have others treat us that way.
This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere WI