Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.  Leviticus 19:15 (NIV)

Craig stepped up to the microphone and surveyed the four hundred Treverton College students as they waited for him to begin morning devotions. Once he had their full attention he began by saying; “I’m sad to report that somebody has scratched my car!” A few people gasped in surprise as Craig continued. “Someone took a stone and scratched my car from the front fender to the back bumper!” Craig paused and let this statement sink in. By this stage people were shocked and outraged. Then Craig said; “I want you to know I saw who scratched my car and I want that person to come forward.” There was a deathly silence and eventually Jeremy stood up. Staff and students were not surprised for Jeremy was something of a rogue.

But Craig wasn’t finished. He said, “There was another boy and he must also come forward.” David Barson then rose to his feet. Everyone was amazed for they’d thought of David as a model student. Craig then turned to the two youth and asked why they’d scratched his car. “Well Sir, it was because of those bad marks you gave us in English.” Craig simply looked at them and kept staring until everyone was desperately uncomfortable with the situation. Finally Craig faced the school and said, “You have just witnessed a drama! No one scratched my car! Now listen to today’s devotion. It’s on the subject of labelling and judging.”

This unusual drama is an excellent example of how we label and categorize each other. It reminds us of how people can be encouraged or impeded as a result of the labels we give them.

Researchers have proven the point. In one experiment with two classes of first year high school students the teachers were told that Class A had a number of high achievers and Class B had some students with learning difficulties. As the year progressed Class A produced excellent work and Class B’s efforts were mediocre. Then the administrators revealed that according to aptitude tests the classes had the same potential! The only reason they produced a different set of results was due to the fact that they were labelled.

The application is obvious. Labelling and judging prevents people from reaching their full potential. So “do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great, but judge your neighbour fairly” Leviticus 19:15.

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