Do you ever think about someone you love or admire? Maybe they are the same person.
What kinds of things do they believe or do?
If you look at me you’d notice that I like to talk. A lot. I like to write. I like Jesus, my wife, and hockey. You’d see that I was short for a man in my culture, a bit grey, and after a moment or two you’d notice my sense of humor and my impish grin. Hopefully you’d see that what I believe and what I do match.
How long would it take you to form an opinion of me? A few minutes? Perhaps one minute? Thirty seconds?
One tenth of a second! That’s it! That is all the time it takes for the person you just met to form an impression of you. This is according to a study by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov. I haven’t met them even for that long so I have no opinion about them either way. But I read the same results elsewhere.
That’s like in a blink of any eye! What a minute. There is something about that phrase that rings a bell. 1 Corinthians 15 verse 52 says that in the blink or twinkling of an eye we will be changed as the last trumpet sounds. We change from who we with all our failings into who Christ calls us to be. No more sin, guilt, or death.
Talk about a great first impression as we meet Jesus in the air! Maybe there’s a reason this all takes place in the blink of any eye.
The problem with being judged in a tenth of a second is that there are no real good criteria upon which to judge. And we do get it wrong sometimes. Facial expressions that look surly can actually be pain. An angry look could be the sun in the eyes. Tears could be sorrow or joy.
Proverbs 20:5 tells us that the purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters and it takes insight to draw them out. Being a counselor, I can tell you it is not usually a first guess profession. The most vile people can have the nicest smile and look absolutely fabulous.
I remember one young couple I counseled many years ago. The man seemed to be the one who had it all together. My insight was that this was not the case and when I met the family their versions of life with father were much more horrid than his version. To anybody meeting this man on the street their blink of any eye impression would be grand I am sure. How many men and women present well but are way less perfect upon closer inspection?
Then there’s Jesus. He already knows who we are. He created us and he knows our innermost being. His opinion of us is based who we really are. Remember when God chose David to be king. Samuel, the prophet, was set to choose Eliab because of his outer appearance. Probably in the blink of an eye too. Yet God told Samuel not to look at his appearance or height.
Samuel was obedient and bypassed Eliab and David got the call.
God doesn’t get tricked by fancy packaging. We sure do. I bet many of us bought something we don’t really need just because it was shiny or was slickly advertised. Everything from cleaning products to relationships promise fulfillment. That’s the whole plot of beer commercials.
I think if God believed beer commercials, he would have told Samuel to pick Eliab.
The next time you meet someone don’t be a beer commercial. Be a Jesus instead and blink more than once before you form an opinion about them. The Bible says we are known by our fruits. I think that’s a good way to know others as well.
Go beneath the outer appearance and look at the heart and the fruit.
Andy Becker is lead of Lighthouse Ministries which brings God’s love and presence to the North Central area of Regina, Canada. He is also a writer, public speaker, former counselor, and former Executive Director of a Hospice.