It is a natural human response to take the appearance of things as reality or to see what we want to see in others. Judging by appearances misleads us, with many negative consequences.
In John 7:19, Jesus had been teaching on the third day of the week of the Feast of Tabernacles that anyone who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, but he who “seeks the glory of [God] is true and has no unrighteousness is in Him.” Then Jesus added, “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law?” The crowd prided themselves in appearing to obeying the strictest part of the law. Whoever acted differently was criticized and condemned.
Then Jesus made this “antireligious” statement: “Stop judging according to external appearance”—that is, refrain from judging by superficial measures and preconceived conclusions.
Since Jesus did not measure up to their expectations, He was rejected long before He clarified His teachings about His deity. His condemnation of their hypocrisy led the religious establishment to a search for a justification for His crucifixion, yet all He was seeking to teach was how much each of them needed God’s forgiveness and His gift of righteousness.
Every day, we make decisions to accept or reject potential employees, team members, life mates, friends, and so on, and these decisions are primarily based on appearances. Few people see beyond the externals to value the inner qualities above their external appearance.
We are told to “judge with proper judgment.” Earlier, Jesus had said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt 7:1); He was denouncing those whose critical attitudes condemn others by comparing them to their own “superior” standards.
Those not measuring up are discarded. Even the prophet Samuel was surprised when God chose David to be king. He learned that “God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7b). “Proper judgment” refers to biblical values and taking His commands seriously.
The wisdom of God’s word contains this “proper judgment,” which is a challenge for everyone, but together we can help each other become a better follower of our Savior.
“Give me wisdom, dear Lord, to see others as You see them without jumping to judgments from mere appearances. I want to learn to be patient and give time for Your Spirit to provide biblical insight and understanding as I deal with others.”