From a behavioral perspective, it’s easy to label teens in a good or bad category. We look at them and make our assessments. On the surface, we can see differences in their lives, but under the surface could be a different story. What is a good teen? Who is one? How do you know?
An outward comparative assessment can be dangerous because it does not consider the heart of the person. Though you don’t want to disregard a person’s behavior, you must look deeper to discern what “good” is in a person. It’s not hard to fool people, especially those teens who have learned the right responses. They can imitate good, but their heart is far from it.
The so-called good person could be a legalist, which is how learned behavior works. They know how to perform well in front of others. On the other hand, you could have a person whose “optics” are not as flattering, but that individual is a much better person from God’s perspective. They just don’t appear to be all that great.
The widow in the New Testament (Luke 21:1-4) and the renowned sinner woman (Luke 7:36-50) are prime examples of people who did not meet acceptable social expectations. Still, Jesus perceived them as being worthy of His praise. Outward looks can be deceiving.
The widow lady was dirt poor, and the sinner woman was a societal outcast. Don’t fall into the trap of looking good on the outside while masking inner idolatries that need God’s restorative care, and don’t give in to judging others based on what you observe.
Time to Reflect
I want you to spend adequate time assessing yourself on the two following things.
1. Do you judge others primarily based on their appearance? What does that “behavioral perspective” about others reveal about your discernment?
The person who has experienced God’s forgiveness will love others well.
2. How does your experience with God’s mercy motivate you to be cautious with how you think about and respond to others?