Why It Is Sin to Judge People by Their Appearance

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

We tend to treat people differently because of the way they look, but it is sin to judge people by their appearances.

Judging by Appearances

We tend to treat people differently because of the way they look, but it is sin to judge people by their appearances. I’ve done it so I plead guilty. My experience is that even though first impressions are lasting ones, they’re not always right. And I would say our first impressions are wrong. We don’t know what’s inside that person, what they’ve gone through, or their background either. There’s no way to judge a book by the front cover just as we cannot accurately or fairly judge a person by what they look like, how they talk, or what they do. Jesus said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24), and what we see does not always give us a “right judgment.” Jesus always judges right. It is written of Him that “his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear” (Isaiah 11:3). Need we do any less?


No Partiality

What if someone walked into your church in worn, tattered and dirty clothes? Would we be ready to ask them to leave…or would we show them no partiality and say, “Hello my brother/sister, come right in and sit down and join us in worship.” God’s Word commands us to “show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (James 2:1). God showed no partiality in saving us, and we were certainly not worthy of being saved. If a rich man and a poor man walked into church at the same time, to who would you go to first? Again, a reminder from God’s Word, that “if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:2). Some laws never go out of existence, I believe, like the command: “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor” (Lev 19:15). Do we really think that part of God’s law has passed away?

Kindness to Strangers

It’s probably harder to be kind to strangers than people we know. We want to keep our nose out of other people’s lives, but we’re called to serve Christ (Matt 25:35-36), and to live like Christ (2 Cor 5:17), in order to share Christ (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Besides, the way we treat people might actually be the way we’re treating an angel. What?! The author of Hebrews says it’s possible we’ve entertained angels and not even known about it, so just to be on the safe side, we must “not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb 13:2). The world “entertain” doesn’t mean you put on a show for someone. It means you treat them with respect and dignity, like you would all people.

Examine Yourself

The one I’m most concerned with in this world and among my friends in the church and family is not someone else…it’s me! When I hear other preachers, I’m not listening to hear how others should get their lives together. I’m hearing, “How can I be more holy in this life? What is it in my life I need to work on?” I’ve got troubles enough with the man in the mirror than to worry about others and judge them for things that I think are sin. Judgment is good (Matt 18:15-20), but it starts in the house of God and not on the street (1 Pet 4:17). I’m not sure I want to judge others because that same standard will then apply to me. It is just as Jesus said, “the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matt 7:2). What this naturally means is that “if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged” (1 Cor 11:31). Judging myself keeps me so busy that I have no time to judge others (nor, any right).

Benefit of the Doubt

We’ve all done it. We’ve judged someone by the way they look. We might not say it, but we might think it; they’re too old, they’re too young, they’re too short, they’re too tall, they’re too skinny, they’re too fat….etc. I’ve learned the hard way that dynamite comes in small packages and it doesn’t take much nitro glycerin to make an impression. The only way to truly judge someone fairly is to get to know them. I don’t mean judge them as innocent or guilty and worthy of hell. I mean making a judgment about their character. By spending time with someone, getting to know them, to know their family, hearing about their history and such things allow us to judge a person rightly, as Jesus said we must (John 7:24). Judging by appearances, most people today would not have even given the great Apostle Paul a second thought, but if they only knew what God was doing through this man of God, they’d stop judging him by his appearance, like we do people. Lord help us to not jump to conclusions and usually wrong ones! Love not only believes all things, it thinks the best of people, giving them the benefit of the doubt (1 Cor 13:7). That’s the loving thing to do.True Love



If you’ve never trusted in Christ, then you will be judged guilty someday; after death (Heb 9:27) or at Christ’s second coming (Rev 20:12-15), and the results will be catastrophic (Rev 21:8). This is why I plead with you right here and right now, you who read this; repent and believe and have all your sins fall upon Christ. Only His precious blood can make us whiter than snow (2 Cor 5:21). There is absolutely no other way (Acts 4:12).

Here is some related reading for you: How Can I Stop Judging People? Answers From the Bible

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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