How many seconds do you have to make a first impression? I’ve read you have seven. Seven seconds. That’s crazy to think someone sums up their opinion of you, an opinion that will be next to impossible to change, in just seven seconds. As the saying goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” If you do, you just might get it all wrong.
Think of all of the missed opportunities in life with careers, friendships, and love that are missed because people don’t pause long enough to look behind those seven seconds.
Eli, a priest in the tribe of Levi, made a false judgment about a woman just because of what he saw in the first few seconds [1 Samuel 1:9-17].
Hannah had gone with her husband, Elkanah, to the temple at Shiloh to make sacrifices and worship. She was grieved because her womb was closed. She was desperate for a child, a son. She was agonizing over her situation and crying out to the Lord is prayer; however, she did so quietly, privately. Through her brokenness, she poured out her heart to the Lord. Eli witnessed this, but assumed he knew the situation.
Eli saw a woman’s lips moving, but no sound coming out. He saw a distressful look on her face. He assumed she was drunk [1 Samuel 1:13-14]. He was so certain of what he witnessed he called her out [vs. 15]. What would have happened to Hannah’s reputation or her husband’s good name if Eli had made his observations public? Even though it was an honest mistake, it could have ruined their family. She could have potentially been stoned in that day and age. Instead of being drunk, she was a devote believer saturated with grief crying out to her heavenly Father to intervene. She appeared to be far from God, yet she was closer to Him than even the priest.
Have you ever made a false assumption? Have you ever looked at someone and assumed the worst based on what you witnessed? Did you ever take the time to go deeper?
Jesus clearly tells us in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” This is so important to Him, He stated it again in Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” We are not called to be judge and jury of others in this life. Scripture tells us there is one Judge and His name is Jesus [Hebrews 10:30, James 5:9, 1 Peter 4:5].
It’s time we climbed out of His judgment seat and became instruments of His love, grace, and mercy to those we encounter. He hasn’t called us to judge, but He has commanded us to love one another [John 13:34-35, Romans 13:8, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11.1 John 3:23]. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 reminds us how love treats another, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” No matter what you think you see, choose to love.
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