Who Are All These People?

Are you a “people watcher”?

Yesterday Becky and I did a nice holiday bike ride on the wonderful Fort Collins trails.

One fun aspect of city bike trails is the variety of fellow travelers, especially on a holiday. You see every possible configuration, from serious athletes to families enjoying a leisurely morning in the Colorado sunshine.

I’m usually not much of a “people watcher.” Becky would say I’m sort of oblivious. Normally I pay more attention to the surroundings and my own workout, but yesterday for some reason I was especially aware of the spectrum of folks we encountered. I’ve been thinking about it ever since because of the superficial judgments I formed about them.

This guy had a scowl on his face—probably a bad attitude. That lady has a really friendly-looking dog—she’s probably nice. That guy should take better care of HIS dog—he’s not very thoughtful.

Do you do stuff like that?

I even judged people based on exercise styles. Runners with a relaxed, efficient stride are somehow kind and generous. Those who run poorly, all tight and struggling, must be angry or at least not very smart. Cyclists didn’t escape my inadvertent internal scale, and they even got evaluated based on equipment. Too fancy—must be trying to impress, probably compensating somehow.

I wasn’t aware as I was categorizing these complete strangers, and that’s what bothers me. If I form such unfair judgments on a bike trail, I’m pretty sure I do it in other situations as well.

That guy with the scowl? Maybe he just lost his job, or his wife’s sick. I didn’t consider those possibilities.

I’m not very proud of my ride yesterday. I guess it’s not a big deal—I really didn’t hurt anyone or anything, right? Does it matter?

In Matthew 25:34:46, Jesus talked to some folks who asked a similar question.

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

I guess it matters.

Am I the only one who makes these sorts of superficial judgments? Any hints for avoiding this negative habit?

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Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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