I suppose it has always been the case that people looked at one another and immediately sized them up in some way to place them in a particular category. Let’s face it the amount of categories you can put another person in today is so multiplied I can’t keep up with them. Think of someone you met today and just had a few words with, perhaps in a coffee shop, a restaurant or on the street. How many ways did you size them up? If you carried on a conversation with them that lasted more than 30 seconds you were given several other slots you could put them in. Just from sight we can size them up by race, age, well-dressed or shabby, confident or a beggar, fashionable or either don’t care or just poorly dressed. But if you talk with them for a while you begin to put them into other slots as well. You can decide if they are from this country, from the south or north or if they are friendly or not.
But, if we are honest we have to admit the slots we have for people can be based on a multitude of other things. Are the liberal or conservative? Are they pro-life or pro-choice? Are they religious or not and if religious are they the kind I am or some other brand? Are they athletic or not at all interested in who wins or loses?
I know I fall into the same pit fall of sizing people up and putting them into some category, but isn’t it downright aggravating when someone returns the favor and sticks you into some category that you don’t even like much less think you belong in? Have you been misjudged lately? I think of the days when I was selling real estate and people would meet to look at homes or to discuss what they wanted and I would look at the car they drove and how they were dressed often to make a quick judgment of what they might want. One day an elderly couple came into my office wanting to look at a house. They didn’t give the appearance of having much money at all and when I saw their car it was old and pretty worn out. But they were asking about a house that was very expensive and wanted to go see it. I immediately thought this was a waste of time, but agreed to set it up to show them the house. After all I wanted to look at it myself. As we waited for the time for us to be able to see it, I started talking about things like if they had a house they needed to sell to be able to buy it and they said, no. I asked if they had visited any mortgage companies to see what kind of loan they qualified for and they said no. So, I showed them the house thinking the whole time this is a waste of time. At the conclusion of the showing I asked how they liked the house and she answered, I really like it and see a few changes we will need to make but we want it. I waited for the man to speak up as well, but he was quiet until we got back to the office and I said let’s go in and start the paper work. He said, O.K. and I pulled out the offer and acceptance and asked if they had in mind what they wanted to offer. He said they would give the asking price. I asked if they needed to make preparation for loan and he said, no they would pay cash and that they would be negotiable on when they people needed to move out. They signed the contract and he handed me a quite large check for the earnest money just to make it clear to the sellers this was real. After they left, I begin to do some checking and found out that they were extremely wealthy and could easily have afforded a dozen such homes if they wanted them. I had totally missed it when I tried putting them into a compartment that I thought they would fit into.
What if we just stopped all the sizing up of people in every way and really took time to get to know people without judging them, what would happen in the world? There is no question that Jesus was the absolute best at taking people where they were and offering them hope and new life no matter what their race, color, background or sin they had been involved in. He touched the unclean, ask for a drink from a immoral Samaritan woman, forgave one caught in adultery and even took a man named Saul who hated Christianity, and wanted to destroy it and turned his whole life around to become his apostle to the Gentiles.
Instead of focusing on what people are or what wrong they have done, what a different world we would live in if we could look at them and see what they are capable of becoming with our help and God’s help. Let’s try something for a few days, at least. Let’s try to eliminate or at least cut way back on the number of categories we have to put people into and then refuse to put anyone into any category until we have actually taken the time to learn about them and know what kind of problems and concerns they are dealing with. I believe it will take a lot of pressure off us but will be uplifting to the whole world.