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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Judge a person by their shoes?

Do I care what people think when they look at my shoes? To an extent, yes,
it's not anything I lose sleep over. I feel secure in who I am, and thus
never been one to spend much money on buying shoes that (I think) will raise
others' esteem of me. Should I now review my position?

An article appeared June 12, 2012 on concerning a study
conducted by researchers at the University of Kansas. The headline is what
caught my eye: The study proposes that 90% of pertinent facts about who I am
be guessed on the basis of my shoes.

63 students looked at photographs of 208 different pairs of shoes belonging
volunteers connected with the study. When asked to guess certain attributes
the shoes' owners simply by looking at their footwear, the study
were right an astonishing percentage of the time. Traits such as gender,
social status, whether the person was an introvert or an extrovert,
or liberal - all of these can be guessed by one's footwear. Or so claims
study's authors.

No one will be surprised to hear that others make judgments of people on the
basis of what they wear or other aspects of their appearance. But how many
us appreciate being so judged? Even if the success rate is 90% (I'm
skeptical of that claim), what happens when I'm in the 10% who are
Could that erroneous conclusion cost me a job or a friendship?

Judge a person by their shoes? That goes against an old adage that says,
judge me until you walk a mile in my shoes." I see far more wisdom in the
latter course.

Jesus Christ had some important things to say about judging others: "Judge
that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be
and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew
To me that sounds like a warning against the practice of evaluating a person
any outward measure, shoes or otherwise.

The prophet Samuel was sent to the home of Jesse to anoint the next king of
Israel. Jesse had several sons and Samuel was in a quandary over which one
anoint. After seeing the eldest, who looked like a future king, God advised
prophet: "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because
have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at
outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

But here's something else to keep in mind: Sometimes we must make judgments
others - on the basis of what God has told us. In the same chapter in which
Jesus warned against judging, He also commanded us to beware of wolves in
sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15). How can we know which sheep-looking
is a wolf? "You will know them by their fruits," Jesus taught (Matthew

Our problem is that we often judge others by our own standards. One thinks
a beard makes a man look unkempt; another sees it as distinguished. We all
different standards.

One standard, though, rises above all others. When God gives us the basis
which to discern between people, that's the time to make an evaluation.

Timothy D. Hall

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