Judging by Outward Appearances
John 7:19-30
Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why go you about to kill me?…

I. IS NOT A TRUE WAY OF JUDGING. Some of the most delicious fruits are encased in rough and unsightly coverings; and one who had not tasted them before, would be likely to pass them by, and go on to others which seemed to be better. One day a man dressed in plain, coarse clothes walked into a little English village, carrying a bundle tied up in a handkerchief. No one noticed him, or cared for him. After a while the stage-coach drove up; the little way-side mail-bag was thrown off, and all the idlers of the village assembled about the post-office. The contents of the bag were soon assorted, and there was nothing deserving of notice, except a formidable-looking letter, with a large seal, directed to Lord Somebody. The postmaster examined it, and read its superscription aloud. Everybody was on tip-toe of expectation, and for giving the nobleman a grand reception. Meanwhile, the stranger in the homespun dress sat silently watching the proceedings; and, when the public curiosity had worn itself out over the letter, he claimed it as his own. Astonishment, indignation, and a variety of other emotions, took possession of the crowd. But when the postmaster, who had seen the nobleman some- where before, and now recognized him in his plain clothes, handed him the letter, every one began to try and do away with the unfavourable impression which had been made on the stranger by the cool contempt with which he had been treated so long as he had been thought to be only an ordinary traveller. Lord Somebody, taking his bundle in his hand, left the village, giving the advice contained in the text as his parting legacy to its mortified inhabitants.

II. IS NOT A JUST WAY OF JUDGING. Many hundred years age when the Tabernacle of the Lord was at Shiloh, a good woman, named Hannah, went into pray, and to ask for a special blessing which she greatly longed for. It was in her heart that she spake to the Lord, and no loud word was uttered. But He who knoweth all things could hear her. Eli the priest saw her come in, and, judging from outward appearance, he judged unjustly, rashly concluding her to be tipsy. How Eli's heart must have been wrung by the reply (1 Samuel 1:15). People who wear the longest faces, and who talk the most religiously, have not always the most of the love of God in their hearts. As Shakespeare has worded it — "A man may smile, and smile, and be a villain."

III. IS NOT A SAFE WAY OF JUDGING. The ice on the river appears to be as safe as the earth, but how many who venture upon it pay for their temerity! "Oh! how I wish I could ride in a carriage, like that gentleman!" exclaimed a little fellow, one day, as a handsome coach and four dashed rapidly by him, while he trudged along the dusty road. "I am sure that man must be as happy as a king. O that I had been born so lucky!" At no great distance from the spot where the carriage passed him, it suddenly stopped, and the complaining and envious boy arrived just in time to see the happy owner of the carriage descend from it. Alas! little of happiness was to be seen. The rich man was a cripple, and before he could move a step, a pair of crutches had to be brought to him, and, as he cautiously raised himself from the seat, his face was distorted with pain. The little boy was thus taught the lesson of the text.

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?

WEB: Didn't Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill me?"

Judge not by Appearances
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