A friend of mine recently wrote on her Facebook “Never judge a book by its cover because the cover can fool you too.” Now what she was referring to was a wolf in sheepskin clothing when she wrote this, someone who everyone on the outside thought was a wonderful person, but in private was an abusive tyrant full of malevolent intentions. We are not going to discuss this topic in that direction. It is one of those topics that can in many instances develop both ways.
She struck the thought in my mind when I read how true this statement is. For example, Gone with the Wind is a novel by American writer Margaret Mitchell, first published in 1936. Despite its title, it has absolutely nothing to do with windstorms or tornados. But the same misjudgment can happen to people.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a solid reference for the following story as it was shared with me during a late-night conversation back many years ago, but I share it for illustration purposes.
Back in the early 1990s, two Police Officers were sent to take a 38-year-old man into custody for aggravated assault charges. The one Police Officer was a seasoned veteran of the force and his partner had only been on the job a few days. The more Senior Officer had made it known to his young protege that he was not feeling his best that night. They proceeded to the address that they were sent to which was an old rundown apartment building in the less-than-reputable part of town. After climbing six flights of stairs because of a broken elevator they knocked on the door of the apartment identifying themselves. The 38-year-old suspect opened the door wearing a torn pair of sweatpants and a faded t-shirt. The apartment was in shambles with pizza boxes and food delivery bags scattered about the little furniture that was in it.
The Senior Police Officer being well out of breath proceeded to inform him he was being arrested for the charges brought against him. The suspect turned around placing his hands behind him not saying a word. While going through the procedure of handcuffing the Senior Officer collapses to the floor, his fellow Officer knelt to discover his mentor was not breathing. In panic the Rookie Officer radios for help, scared and unsure he tells the suspect to stay where he is. The suspect then begins to plead with the young Officer to remove the handcuffs so he can help his partner. The suspect tells the young Officer his partner is in cardiac arrest and that he knows how to save him. The suspect begins to instruct the young Officer on how to position his partner and check his airway. With the young Rookie shaking nervously he does what the suspect says, again the suspect pleads “uncuff me so I can save your partner.” The young Rookie agrees. He uncuffs the suspect who immediately falls to his knees and begins CPR. Seeing that the suspect is indeed rendering aid, the Rookie runs into the hallway to hear fellow Officers and paramedics making their way up the stairwells.
When the young Rookie Officer returns inside the apartment he finds the suspect kneeling beside his Senior partner who is now breathing but unconscious. The Rookie asks the suspect, where did you learn to do all that? The 38-year-old suspect replied I’m an ER doctor at the hospital down the street. “You’re a doctor?” said the Rookie. “Why are you living here?”, he asked. The suspect responded, “I moved here shortly after my wife left me so that I could be closer to work. Feeling down on myself I went out two weeks ago to the bar down on the corner and got drunk, I ended up getting into the middle of a fight trying to reason with the two men only to have to defend myself, which is why you are here tonight. I took a leave of absence from work and have not left my apartment since that night.
Once the paramedics arrived and took the Senior Officer away to the hospital, the young Rookie was instructed to cuff the suspect and bring him downstairs for transport to jail. The young Rookie apologized to the Doctor suspect, knowing what all he had just done to save his partner, saying “I’m sorry, but I have to do this.” The Doctor responded, “We all make bad choices sometimes and even though we have good intentions we will have to answer for them in the end.” So concludes the story.
We all have a natural tendency to put blinders on to the world around us, to only see what is on the surface and not what lies underneath. Our world is full of people being labeled, outcasted, or ignored because of what the eye sees. But everyone has a story to tell.
As Christians, we should always be willing to hear that story and understand people by who they are inside and not as they appear to be. We should also be cautious because some put on a pleasing appearance but have a rotten intentions inside. Regardless of the intention, good or bad, we are to always show love. Jesus Said, in Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT)
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT)
So my friends, always look deeper than the cover of books, people, and situations, and always show love in all situations. If you do I’m pretty sure you will find the world is a brighter place when we take off our blinders.