No need to judge

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey Neuberger
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Chaplain
"Don't judge a book by its cover." This is an old axiom that has stood the test of time. But what does this mean? Does anyone read books anymore, or even look at the covers?

Covers on books often carry an inviting representation of the contents inside, revealing the truth of another axiom: "a picture is worth a thousand words." We are enticed to enter the pages from the outside of the book. Once there, we may find the book delivers or it doesn't; hence the warning "don't judge a book by its cover."

We know this isn't true only of books, but of people and circumstances. We must be careful not to jump to conclusions based on what we see on the surface. 

From "Today in the Word" we read this story about a memorial. In 1884, a young man died, and after the funeral his grieving parents decided to establish a memorial to him. With that in mind they met with Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University. Eliot received the unpretentious couple into his office and asked what he could do. After they expressed their desire to fund a memorial, Eliot impatiently said, "Perhaps you have in mind a scholarship." 

"We were thinking of something more substantial than that... perhaps a building," the woman replied. 

In a patronizing tone, Eliot brushed aside the idea as being too expensive and the couple departed. The next year, Eliot learned that this plain pair had gone elsewhere and established a $26 million memorial named Leland Stanford Junior University, better known today as Stanford! 

Judging by appearances can be deceiving. However, given half a chance, people can often crawl out of the boxes into which we've relegated them. 

Have you boxed anyone in lately?