God says to give ‘em all a chance

Published 11:42 pm Sunday, July 2, 2017

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously.”  — Proverbs 4:23-24

The sunscreen was lathered on, car loaded up, and tickets in hand—we were ready to start the day. The marina was full of all sorts of boats and fisherman hastily starting their days as the sun peeked over the horizon. She was already nervous, but I assured her this was going to be fun. We made our way down the main pier toward dock No. 34, looking for a vessel named Big Adventure. We were ready to have a big adventure with an entire day of deep sea fishing off the coast of Perdido Key, Fla.

Our boat was scheduled to leave at 7 a.m. As others started showing up, I noticed that my wife was the only female onboard. Some of the men made passing comments like, “Why is she here?” and “A woman doesn’t know how to fish…” I encouraged her to ignore the whispers and focus on what we were here for:  enjoying God’s creation and catching some monster fish.

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A little after 7 a.m., the boat left the pier and headed out to sea. The deckhands got our poles ready and about an hour later, we arrived at our first fishing spot. The captain’s voice came over the speaker and said, “Lines in!”

We were hungry for tuna, snapper, mackerel, amberjack — you name it, we wanted it!

Judgmental looks from the others onboard continued while we fished — until  my wife’s pole suddenly bowed over unlike anything I had ever seen.

She quickly cried out, “I need some help!”

At first I thought she needed to man up and tough it out in front of the guys, but I came over to help.

I took the pole and immediately replied, “Yeah, you do need help!”

Some of the men grew curious, wondering what my wife’s fishing skills would bring to the surface. The audience began to grow as we continued in tandem reeling in the frantic flicker of orange and red appearing from under the surface. Sweat was forming on our brows and moments later, a giant red snapper was pulled on to the deck!

One of the deckhands shouted, “Hey, we got a nice one here!” The fish was taken to the back deck to be weighed. “Biggest one yet!” the deckhand shouted.

Of course, the negative grumbling morphed into positive encouragement, with all skepticism removed. After that monstrous catch, she was part of the boy’s club out at sea.

What’s the point? 1 Samuel 16 tells us that, “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

John 7:24 also tells us, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment,” and even better, Romans 2:11 says, “God shows no partiality.”

Before you’re tempted to judge someone this week, and yes, you will do it—give ‘em a chance first.

Look at them with a redeemed perspective — as a brother or sister in Christ, regardless of age, race, gender, accent — whatever judging criteria you come up with, cast it aside. Someone once told me, “You know, we’re not really racists as much as we are personality-ists.”

We find so many silly ways to judge and ostracize others.

What if Christ had been like that?

Glory be to God that we have the perfect example of loving others unconditionally found in God’s Word. And even more glory to him for putting his righteousness upon those who believe in him.

The gospel is not color or gender-coded, therefore, neither should we be when we serve Christ as his disciples this month.
Seth Duhs is the minister of New Covenant Presbyterian Church.