Sunday, Fourth Week of Epiphany January 31

Text: John 7:14-31

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24

Several years ago, I received a generous birthday gift from my mother who knew I was in need of a wardrobe overhaul. With a full wallet, I entered a shop at the outlet mall in St. Augustine fully believing that I would make a sizable purchase thanks to Mom.

Upon entering the store, the sales personnel did not greet or acknowledge me. I browsed around for a while waiting for an offer of assistance. I began to notice that other customers entering the store received a prompt hello and shortly thereafter, a salesperson was by their side gathering items to take to the fitting room.

In this passage, Jesus issues a warning that we should not judge according to appearances – as matters appear on the surface, at first glance. A righteous and true judgment depends upon careful consideration and weighing of all evidence. It’s best to investigate, ascertain the truth, adopt it, and stick to it permanently.

Be sure to read Pastor Brooks’ article in the February newsletter. He addresses this same issue as it pertains to news media, social media, and print media of our times. The admonition that comes from him, “…grow in your ability and wisdom to do the things of Christ. Our actions are less likely to “be tossed to and fro” by the winds.

Many voices today seem to have lost all sense of proportion and must be listened to with wisdom. Wisdom that comes from heaven which is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere – peacemakers who sow in peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.“ -James 3:17-18. Let us use God’s Word as our anchor – lest we be tossed to and fro.

My shopping experience? I left the store without a purchase. Why? I firmly believe I was judged for my appearance. I invaded a store with fashionably dressed salespeople who greeted impeccably dressed customers. Having spent the day touring the beach town of St. Augustine, dressed for the summer heat, sunburned, and hair tossed to and fro by the ocean breezes my appearance was in stark contrast to the others.

My heart learned a valuable lesson that day. Don’t pass judgment flippantly. To know the genuine estimation of a thing, you need to invest energy in it. At the end of the day, appearance lies. My adage-prone father was correct, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Open it, examine it, investigate it, ascertain the truth, adopt it, and stick to it permanently.

O God, give me strength and wisdom to live this day as I ought. Give me

Wisdom to know when to speak, and when to keep silent;

Wisdom to know when to act, and when to refrain from action;

Wisdom to know when to speak my mind, and when to hold my peace.

Through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.(William Barclay)

~ Chris Wethman

Lay Minister of Administration


Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church

824 N. Buchanan Blvd. 

Durham, NC 27701

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824 North Buchanan Blvd, Durham, NC 27701 | 919-682-6030  |

Mission Statement: We are called to Welcome Everyone to Walk the Way of GRACE, and walk in that way in our individual lives, in our shared life in our various communities, in our common life with our neighbors, and even to the world at large as God sends us. The Way of Grace is to: GROW with Jesus, REJOICE in God, ANSWER with hope, CARE for the neighbor, and EMBRACE community.

Vision Statement: God has a plan FOR OUR LIVES, and so we teach how to walk in the path of Jesus Christ; FOR OUR NEIGHBORHOODS, and so we work to build healthy and strong communities; FOR OUR CITY, and so we share life with our neighbors in Walltown, Trinity Park, Duke, and the Triangle; and FOR OUR WORLD, and so we go with Good News.

Core Values: Because God loves us first, we value worship rooted in Scripture and Sacraments, service to all people, and being a welcoming community that loves and forgives one another.