Prejudice Means to “Pre-Judge”
Once, when my oldest daughters were about seven and five, we went on our monthly Saturday morning date to the McDonalds across the street. After we sat down, a tattooed girl with many piercings, heavy make-up, funky colored hair, and wearing a McDonald’s uniform jumped into our booth. In fact, she sat right next to my girls. Their eyes popped out and their jaws dropped. The girl then loudly and proudly said, “Dr. Benzio, look at me! I’m off drugs, I got a job, I’m back in school, and I broke up with that loser boyfriend you warned me about. Thank you so much for giving me back my life!” Then she smiled at the girls and asked, “Are these yours? They are so lucky. I hope they learn what you taught me to avoid my mistakes.” Needless to say, the girls didn’t feel lucky … because they were so scared. Why? Because they pre-judged.
You see, prejudice creeps into our lives without our awareness. It can be so subtle that we don’t even recognize it. We might choose one cashier’s line over another because of race, a tattoo, clothes, or general appearance. In church or any public gathering, we may select seats next to people who “look like us.” Judging also occurs on the opposite end of the spectrum. We may assume that people with power or wealth are unapproachable by others out of their league. Or we believe some hot looking person is a stuck up diva when she’s actually shy. This, too, is judgment based on prejudice not on fact.
Prejudice shows a lack of respect for another person. You see, based on one general characteristic, you claim to know a person without ever hearing her unique story. You reject her based on that one attribute. It is lazy and disrespectful to you as well. But mostly it’s disrespectful to God and His sovereignty. Pre-judging puts others in a box, limiting who they are … who they can become. It also puts you in a box, limiting what you are able to be, to learn, or imagine about yourself. Most importantly, pre-judging really limits God and puts Him in a box. It denies His power to fully transform hearts and individuals. You are telling God you can predict the other person’s character and future … and saying God has no plan for them.
People are people … no matter what their skin color, economic status, education, style, nationality or neighborhood. We all want to be loved and respected by others. We all experience painful times and good times. We all want to be understood. But because of our insecurities … our need to be important … we put others down to give the perception that we are better than we really are. Instead, we need to look to God to grow us and see ourselves as equal heirs in His kingdom.
Have you ever experienced the brunt of prejudice? If so, you understand the hurt it can bring. Ask God to use that experience to teach you to lay aside all prejudice towards others and when possible, take time to know the real person in front of you. Let’s ask God to teach us to look at the heart, not one physical or behavioral characteristic we don’t like.
Today, stop and notice why you think or relate to someone as you do. Is it because you pre-judged? Or is it based on data this person actually revealed to you? One of the biggest reasons we don’t share our faith with others very much is our prejudicial ideas about that person. Don’t prejudge. Enjoy the experience of asking questions and getting to know someone God loves, someone He put into your life for a reason. Whether you extend God’s love with a humble heart or you pre-judge without the facts is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, Help me remember that people are people. Help me not to look down on or be intimidated by anyone. You are the great equalizer. Jesus died for every person. Every person needs forgiveness. Every person needs Jesus. In my relationships with others, help me move past the outward appearance to see the heart. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One You sent to save everyone, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart 1 Samuel 16:7
And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” Luke 25-37