“There! It’s done!”
Matt was exultant as he waved the matchbox sized booklet in front of my face. After two hours of writing, drawing, coloring, cutting and folding, his Indonesian assignment was finished and he was very pleased with himself.
“Look,” he gleefully said as he began unfolding the little pages to show me his work.
The tiny picture book was a rainbow of color with each sheet revealing a new word and illustration. Apart from thinking that a bowl of rice and chopsticks was a big smiley face, I managed to do quite well at identifying each item and was able to zip quickly along to the last page.
“There you go!” I said triumphantly, handing back Matt’s hard work. But I’d spoken a little too soon. With a flip of the paper strip, he revealed another side just waiting for my perusal and so I began the task of identifying each new item.
Before I had a chance to turn the page, Matt hooted in disbelief! “Camera? How on earth did you get camera from that?”
While Matt ran from the room, I took a second look at his little drawing. It was a rectangle that could have been an instamatic camera, or a bread box, or a brick or any number of different oblong objects for that matter. But it wasn’t the picture that had made me think it was a camera. It was the Indonesian words.
In a flash Matt was back with two items in his hands. With cheeky delight he presented the first for my education.
“This is a camera!”
Then whipping the other object into view, he announced, “and this is a pencil case.”
I nodded to show that I understood, while my self-appointed teacher continued to try and illuminate his deluded student. “See, ‘pensil’, just like ‘pencil’! Now what’s that got to do with a camera?
Put that way, I did feel a little foolish and started to giggle as I tried to explain.
“Well, I saw ‘kotak’ and thought that must be how they say Kodak.”
Matt was looking at me in complete amazement. “But ‘pensil’?
By now I was more than a little embarrassed. “I just thought that maybe they thought taking a photo was like drawing a picture.”
At that point my 14-year-old son began to roll on the floor in hysterics and, to be honest, I wasn’t far behind him. There is nothing that a teenage boy loves more than finding a reason to tease a parent - and I’d given him the perfect opportunity.
Looking at his drawing once again, I was able to see that it was indeed a pencil case, right down to the zipper on top. If I’d taken a little more time in the first place to look at all the details and think about the words, I would have probably come to the right conclusion. But instead of the right conclusion, I’d jumped feet first into the wrong confusion!
And I was never going to be allowed to forget it!
Most of us are probably guilty of it from time to time. We see something and based on either face value or our own bias, we make a snap judgment. Some times we actually get it right. But there are those times when a little more information would make a big difference.
If only all our hasty evaluations were as non-damaging as my photo-taking pencil case! Sadly, this isn’t so. The problem with making snap judgments is not only that we may look a little foolish at the end of the day. To be honest, that’s probably no more than we deserve. The real danger lies in the harm that it may do to those who end up on the receiving end.
We know that appearances can be deceptive and that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, yet how often do we do just that!
Clothing, hairstyles, make up, speech and mannerisms are just a few of the things that we may subconsciously use to determine our verdict. But if this is the way we measure a man, then we have to be prepared for the same to be applied to our own lives. It’s no good crying “foul” when someone judges us harshly based on a surface evaluation, if we’ve fallen into the trap of doing the same. As Jesus warned:
For Christian men and women, perhaps the worst snap judgment we can make is on a person’s relationship with God. To take a brother or sister in Christ and hold them against our standard of Christian acceptability, is just not on. Yet how often does it happen?
Some months ago I heard a speaker make the comment that “mediocre Christians only go to church once on weekends.” A statement like that is making a value judgement based on performance and says less about the people being judged, than it does about the one doing the judging!
The Apostle Paul made it very clear what our attitude toward our Christian brothers and sisters should be, when he wrote:
Although correction for obvious sin is Biblical, it isn’t up to us to determine who amongst our church community is or isn’t a “real” Christian. That’s up to God. The only thing we have to do is show equal love to all who claim to be our brothers and sisters, supporting and encouraging them to grow into the people of God they were created to be.
No doubt there’ll be many “kotak moments” ahead for each of us. But let’s endeavour to make them times that leave everyone laughing at our expense, rather than critical at the expense of others.
Send Debbie an E-mail
Copyright © 2001-2003 Debbie Porter - Breath of Fresh Air. All rights reserved.
Send Debbie an E-mail