“Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” – An Idea from the Bible

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” (Luke 6:37)

Sounds simple enough, right?

Christians are REALLY bad about saying things like “I’m not trying to judge, but…” or even judging in our minds. Many people see a man covered in tattoos and their first thought is “grab your purse; lock your doors” or in this day and age, you see a person with a turban, hijab, or burqa and automatically assume they’re a terrorist.

Is this considered judging someone? YES.

Is it wrong? YES.

Is it hard to train your mind not to rush to rash judgments about people? Definitely.

As humans, we are programmed to look at those around us. We take in the world through our eyes. Society, movies, media, etc. have shaped our views and tell us how we should perceive the different things we see. Instead of looking at a man walking toward us, we are trained to see a blonde hair, blue eyed man with a spider web tattoo on his forearm wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt. Do you know why? Several reasons:

  1. We, as a society, are extremely visual. We put a heightened sense of self-worth on people’s appearance. We see someone’s brand of clothes, way they style their hair, purses they carry, etc. as an extension of them and by assessing those things (even subconsciously) we think we can learn so much about that person. You can tell their social class (how much money they have), if they take care of themselves (by their physical size), their “clique” (if they are casual, emo, gothic, mainstream, preppy, etc.) all from what they have around them-as an extension of themselves.


Why do you think the cosmetics industry and the clothing indurstries are such a large part of the global market? The skincare industry accounts for 33.8% of the global market (http://www.statista.com/topics/1008/cosmetics-industry/) and the apparel industry accounts for 28% of the global market (http://www.statista.com/topics/965/apparel-market-in-the-us/). In other words, approximately 62% of the global market belongs to these two industries. How crazy is that??? We put way too much weight into appearances, not just here in America, but as an entire human race.


  1. We live in a society where dangers are literally at every turn. There are so many evil people in the world who hurt innocent people for no reason. We, especially as women, are taught to constantly look over our shoulder, keep mace in your purse, never go out without friends, stay in after dark, etc. We look people up and down to try to assess their “danger factor.” It is sad that it has come to this, but genuinely, I know lots of women who have admitted to doing this and in today’s world, you can never be too careful.


  1. We’re curious. No two people are exactly the same. Our brains are always taking in new faces, new surroundings, new characteristics, etc. We look people up and down to try and learn more about them (although usually do so based on the first two points above).

As children, we are taught the age-old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but do we take it to heart?

Just because someone has tattoos, that does not mean they are rebellious or a thug or a bad person. Many Christians have tattoos-in fact, many are Christian in nature. God says for us to go forth and tell of His word to everyone. Who is a better “missionary” (if you will) to someone covered in tattoos, but a Christian covered in tattoos. I know pastors who have tattoos. Many people get tattoos as teens or young adults and then become saved through Christ. Having tattoos removed is painful and leaves scars. So many people converting to Christ would have tattoos, and they may not be very “pleasant” ones, but does that mean we should look down on them and judge them? No. We do not know their soul. We do not know their relationship with the Almighty.

The Bible verse people most associate with this is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Does God want you to tattoo the whole cast of Family Matters on your back? Probably not.

Is a tattoo going to keep you from entering Heaven if you have accepted Christ as your savior and lead a good, and Godly life? I highly doubt it.

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

I’m not trying to stay stuck on the topic of tattoos…it is just something I hear and see a lot in the Christian community and it has to stop.

What about single mothers? They’re judged a lot too. People see a young mom on her own with her child and think things about how she should’ve tried harder to keep the baby’s father around. Or even a single dad. What did he do to make his child’s mother leave? It’s our nature to “blame the victim.” We do not know the circumstances of other people’s lives and we shouldn’t pretend to do so. We need to mind our own business and show Christ to these people; not show nasty attitudes and dirty looks.

Another group often singled out, especially here in the South (I live in Georgia), are interracial couples. People, it is no longer the 1960’s. People are free to love who they want to love. I’ve heard people quote 2 Corinthians 6:14 as proof that God does not want people to engage in interracial relationships. That is stretching the Word a little thin, don’t you think?

2 Corinthians 6:14 says:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness?”

As long as the person loves God, loves you, and puts his relationship with Christ above all else, it does not matter if he is purple with yellow polka dots. God does not see color. He calls all of us. He created all of us. Quit singling people out for things that we do not feel comfortable with (not things that God has spoken against) and show Christ to all those around you!

What Can One Person Do?

  1. Ask God to show you any prejudices or judgements that might linger in your heart so that you can confess it to Him.
  2. Seek to gain an understanding of the customs of other ethnic groups in your community. Are any of those customs a possible source of racial prejudice? Do you discriminate?
  3. Get to know people. Learn their heart. That will tell you much more than their appearance.

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