Devotional Reading: John 7:14-36. Morning Psalm—119: 73-80; Evening Psalm—121
Text: Don’t judge by appearance. Judge by what is right. (John 7: 24, Contemporary Translation)
When I was in third grade my mother was a “room mother”— a stay at home mom who volunteered to help at the local grade school. Each year at Halloween we would bring our costume to school and change into them for the last half hour of the day. The younger grades—third included—would then parade through the upper grade’s rooms—grades 5-8. We’d then return to our room and feast on Halloween treats—cupcakes and milk. On this particular year there was a young boy in my classroom, Harry, who sat by himself at the back of the room. He did not have a costume. It was not because the family was poor. They just didn’t want their son to participate. With his head silently bowed, a tear rolled down his cheek. My mother noticed. Without saying a word to anyone she went out to her car, pulled an “Indian” blanket out of the back seat, took Harry to the restroom, draped the blanket over his shoulders and put three red stripes on each cheek with her lip stick. Harry now had a costume. He joined in the parade and had a smile on his face that made the angels in heaven sing.
The next day my teacher called my mother to tell her that Harry’s father was very upset. He did not send his son to school to have someone put lipstick on him. I don’t know what my mother said to the teacher but I know that she never apologized. I also know that she told my father that she didn’t care if Harry’s father didn’t like, what she had done but no one, absolutely no one, was going feel left out on her watch!
I thought of Harry’s Halloween as I read the text. “Don’t judge by appearances. Judge by what is right,” Jesus said. I don’t know if my mother was right or wrong. She was clearly in the wrong, at least by school policy. But at the same time, I think that she did the right thing. I’m pretty sure that Jesus would agree with me. But, I don’t really know. In any event, during this season of Lent, let’s dedicate ourselves to not judging by appearances but by what is right…in the sight of God.
Lord, give us our Father’s eyes; “eyes that find the good in things when good is not around; eyes that find the source of help, when help just can’t be found. Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain; knowing what you’re going through and feeling it the same.* Amen.
*Lyrics to “Father’s Eyes” by Amy Grant