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Marching to the beat of God’s drum


When we judge others, we generally do so based on a lack of information. We see someone and immediately decide what sort of person they are. Have you ever done that? Have you ever summed someone up at a glance? And how do you feel when someone does it to you?  


Many years ago, I marched in a Salvation Army band in an Anzac Day parade. The crowds that lined the streets were wonderful and supportive of those marching by. It was a beautiful Autumn Day, and I felt proud to be Australian. 


I was on the outer line of band members, right near the crowd, and I could see and hear something of a commotion up ahead. It appeared that a rowdy group was having a right old yell and carrying on somewhat. 


In the lead-up to the day, there had been talk of protestors attending Anzac Day marches and possibly causing disruptions, and, well, that’s what seemed to be taking place right before my eyes. 


Put in my place 

I considered if I should say something when I reached them. I felt I should but then I also realised I was representing The Salvation Army, so I’d need to be careful of my own behaviour! I also figured it wasn’t really my job; there were police present at intervals all along the parade route. 


Finally, I decided that I just couldn’t march by without saying something, so I composed some words of admonition to put them in their place. 


As I got to these guys, I could more clearly hear what they were saying: “Good on ya, digger!”, “Well done, mate”, “You guys are legends,” “Brilliant effort, lads.” They were clapping hands and waving and cheering for the veterans more than anyone along the whole march. 


Well … that put me in my place. I’d seen them and assumed the exact opposite of what the reality was. They weren’t jeering, they were cheering, and they were doing it with nationalistic pride and immense passion. 


The Bible contains many warnings about judging others and, in one, Jesus says quite simply: “Stop judging by mere appearances but, instead, judge correctly” (John chapter seven, verse 24). 


“I’ve judged a lot of people wrongly in my life … I pray that God teaches me to see as he sees.” 

There is a story in the Bible of a man called Samuel, who was chosen to identify the man God had chosen to one day be king of Israel (plot spoiler: it was David). Samuel looked at David’s older brothers and none of them seemed to be right, and then saw the small, younger brother. God seemed to say, “It’s him.” 


Samuel wasn’t convinced at first, but God said to him, “Other people judge on outward appearance, but I look at a person’s heart” (1 Samuel chapter 16, verse seven). 


Seeing as God sees 

Most of us don’t have x-ray vision or the ability to see into someone’s heart, so how do we get to see what’s in there? Easy – we get to know someone.  


We spend time with them. We hear their story. We assess their personality and character. We observe how they treat others. We listen to their words and note their actions. We build up a character study that allows us to ‘see’ their heart. 


I’ve judged a lot of people wrongly in my life, including some punks one Anzac Day; I pray that God teaches me to see as he sees. 



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