We are taught from very young that it is wrong to have stereotypes of others and to be prejudiced against certain groups or types of people. In society today, we constantly hear about sexism, racism and inequality. But how many of us really understand what it means to judge others?
This question brings back many memories of my time in boarding school, and some of the people I met there. As well as having the typical school staff of teachers and administrators, we also had plenty of cooks, cleaners, and matrons around to do duties in the hostel.
Their jobs always seemed to be viewed as "low and unworthy" by many of the students in the school and I was always surprised by the treatment that those people received from the students, simply because of their jobs.
We are often told to love others unconditionally and show them the respect that we would want to be treated with. But how many of us spend our time judging people for everything from their appearance, to their financial situation, to something as simple as their choice of lifestyle.
I could never understand why the students would judge the cleaners and cooks at school, simply because their jobs weren't as highly paid or qualified as others. But I thought that it was even worse when those people would try to justify their prejudices with their faith and beliefs as Christians.
Because although the bible states that many different actions and even thoughts are sins, it always comes back to two simple things –“Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew chapter 22,verse 39) and “do not judge or you too will be judge.” (Matthew chapter 7, verse 1)
Those verses seem to sum things up pretty clearly, but if that’s the case then why are they so hard to do?
A look at myself
I am by no means perfect. I am certainly guilty of judging others from time to time, just like most people do.
I have sometimes found myself making quick assumptions of people before I have even had the chance to get to know them, or judging a situation and criticising people’s reactions etc. to it, before I get the chance to know all of the facts.
But then I wind up asking myself, why had I behaved like that? What was my reason for making those judgments?
In the bible, there are many examples of people being judgemental and having to be reminded to be forgiving and loving towards people that may not be seen as being as worthy or as important as others.
One such example is when Jesus choose Matthew the tax collector to be one of his disciples (Matthew chapter 9, verses9-13). Tax collectors in those times were often dishonest and untrustworthy. Because of this, all tax collectors were viewed as thieves and sinners and were looked down on.
But Jesus didn't seem to care when he asked Matthew to follow him, and when questioned by the people around him, (who were certainly not impressed that Jesus had chosen to associate with such a sinner)he simply answered“it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Matthew chapter 9, verse 12).
Jesus’s actions towards the supposedly sinful tax collector was a powerful reminder to us all, to look past a reputation or a stereotype before judging someone, and to love people despite who they were or what they did.
But Jesus wasn’t the only one who was an example of how to show love and acceptance to those who were different from you. There are many people whose names are still well known today, who are or were great examples of how to love others unconditionally.
Mother Teresa cared for many people who were considered outcasts or worthless. Her work with the homeless and dying people of the Calcutta slums is still talked about today, more than twenty years after her death.
Our own Judgment day
Many people know about God’s judgement and are aware that a time will come when they will be held accountable for their actions on earth. This puts things into a different perspective as it makes us realize that the day will come when it will be someone else's job to judge us.
The outcome of that judgment will have far more serious consequences than what we would be capable of doing to others. “For we all must appear before the judgement seat of Christ so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians chapter 9, verse 10)
So this leaves me with some final words of encouragement. Remember those people who set examples on what it means to love others unconditionally and to look past stereotypes or prejudices.
If God puts people in your life who are different from you, love them instead of judging them. Because it is love that changes people and environments for the better.
My name is Kate and I love gardening, exercising, and being involved with my church social groups. I have loved to write from a young age, and took up poetry as a teenager. I have recently got married and am enjoying getting used to married life.