I smile when I think about it. As a matter of fact, I am grinning while I am writing this. I had overheard some of the young people at church talking. No, I was not eavesdropping on their conversation. I heard one of them say something about me. They said that I must be addicted to Chapstick. At first I thought what an odd thing to say. I wondered what made them come to such a conclusion. Then I realized, about the only time they see me is when we are at services together. So nearly every time they see me I am putting Chapstick on my mouth. You see, I apply it to my lips before I get up to preach so that it will moisten them and keep those “dry spit” globules away! But addicted to Chapstick? Not hardly.
Such a charge is unfair because the only time I use the stuff is before or after I preach or teach a class. The rest of the week I never apply it. I understand that this is the only time they see me, but does that mean it is right for them to draw conclusions about the rest of my life? What those young people were saying made me think about some timely lessons for all of us.
First, all of us must realize that people are watching us — even in the little things. We must be careful to conduct ourselves properly. Though I do not think I would cause someone else to become a “Chapstick addict,” my influence and the power of my example, if erroneously exerted in other areas, might cause one to stumble. What if I started telling crude jokes, or gossiping or comparing people for the sake of determining who is more spiritual? What if I started asserting my opinion on others and told them to conform? The apostle Paul said he would even abstain from lawful things if engaging in them would cause another to stumble so as to fall (1 Corinthians 8:13).
Secondly, we must all be careful not to jump to conclusions when we do not know all the facts. Some people who only see me at worship services, for example, might conclude that I always wear a coat and tie or always stand in doorways to talk to people as they go by. But those who see me on a day-to-day basis know that is not the case.
We must never make any judgments about others until we know the facts. The Jews during the time of Jesus had done just that in regards to Him. They were ready to arrest and condemn Him early in His ministry. Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews who had come to Him by night, was a voice of reason in the council. He asked this august group of scholars, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7:51). Sadly, there are many, even some who claim to be Christians, who are quick to judge and condemn others without knowing the facts.
Let us all use our influence for good and seek to build one another up in love, instead of jumping to conclusions.
–Gene Taylor (edited by Jay)