OVERCOMING PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS AND “MILD” PRE-JUDGING

When it comes to dealing with other people, we convince ourselves that we are open-minded, and we certainly are not prejudiced. No way do we have preconceived notions about people. Well, maybe we have just a tiny amount of built-in prejudice against a few people or a certain group of humans, but, hey, we are not nearly as prejudiced as some people are.

Is that really good enough? Is it sufficient to pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves that our level of prejudging is mild in comparison to others? Our God calls on us to love people unconditionally, just like He does (Matthew 5:45). The Spirit’s description of love says that it thinks no evil (1 Corinthians 13:5). Having thoughts that someone is evil without any legitimate reason for doing so is unacceptable, even if I rarely do such a thing.

Is it fair to prejudge a person simply because of that person’s gender? “Well, everybody knows that women make all of their decisions based on emotions, but men make them based on the facts.” How insulting. We have seen women who were quite skilled at decision-making without letting their emotions take over, and we have seen males make horrible choices because they disregarded the facts and followed their feelings.

Is it fair to prejudge a person’s work ethic simply because we knew someone like him who tended to be lazy? Would we not want others to evaluate our work habits based on what we personally demonstrate rather than based on what they have seen in others? Surely so. We call it practicing “the Golden Rule” when we strive to treat others in the manner that we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12).

Is it God-like to prejudge a person due to his skin color? Some do. In certain situations, many do, but that does not make it right before God. I have lived in places where I was in a tiny minority due to my skin color being different from the natives. Does that mean that I was different? Sure. But, did being different make me inferior in character or unworthy of the fellowship of God’s people? Not in His sight.

Is it appropriate to prejudge a person because of his/her ethnicity? We may have similar skin color, but they are a different ethnic group with a very different culture. Some Christians struggle with this. Perhaps someone from the other ethnic group spoke disrespectfully about “my” people. It might be the case that some of that group mistreated my ethnic group in the past. Maybe the folks from that other group seem to receive preferential treatment from the government in some areas of life. All of those things may be true, but our great God accepts all people who serve Him faithfully, regardless of their

nationalities and backgrounds (Acts 10:34,35). I need to learn to do the same. In the Christ, by faith Jews and non-Jews are one (Galatians 3:26-28). So are all other children of God.

Some look down their noses at others whose financial standing in life is lower than their own. Even in the church, some give off the air that if you are not able to pay for your kids to attend a private school, well, you are just pitiful and unworthy of being in their circle of friends. They will tolerate you inside a church building, but, please, outside of the worship assembly your associations ought to be only with those who have a lower income. Such arrogance must have a horrible aroma in the nostrils of God! Jesus reached out to the poor, treating them with human decency, just like He did everyone else. Favoritism based on a person’s financial status is sinful. The Bible says so (James 2:1-9).

Some Americans have a built-in dislike for people who were raised or live in a part of the country (or world) that is different than their own. We certainly are not the only nation in which such a mindset exists. It is an unpleasant reality far and wide. Not everyone had a good feeling about people from Nazareth (John 1:46), Galilee (John 7:52), or Samaria (John 4:9). It seems, however, that there were some outstanding servants of Jehovah who came from those areas! Brothers and sisters, one’s relationship with the Godhead and his right to enjoy the fellowship of the redeemed has nothing to do with his family’s ancestry or the place(s) where he was born, reared, or lives currently. What matters is whether one is among those “who are of faith” – they became children of God by the faith and are in the Christ (Galatians 3:9,26-29).

Some Christians are pretty touchy about which language a person chooses to speak. It offends them when a person addresses them in a language that is not the hearer’s mother tongue. Others become impatient and unkindly label anyone living in their country who is not fluent in the most-widely spoken language. The confusion of languages that God caused after man’s self-exalting efforts at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) continues to be a factor in human communication. Let us not forget, though, that a person’s character, integrity, and standing with the church has nothing to do with the language that he chooses to use to express the thoughts of his heart – whether it be English, a local dialect, or a foreign tongue.

Let us lay aside, once and for all, our suspicions, preconceived notions, and “mild” pre-judging.

— Roger D. Campbell

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