My wife Kathy and I participate in an inner city ministry each Saturday where we distribute surplus bread and food to needy families. We have been involved in this ministry for about three years and have watched it blossom into something that is truly beautiful. As the ministry has been faithful each week, trust and relationships have grown and lives are being transformed right before our eyes!
A couple weeks ago Kathy and I were talking to Tina, one of the ladies from the inner city neighborhood that helps out each week. She rides her bike each week to the house where the ministry is based to spend time with us and help with clean-up. While we were in conversation with Tina, a gentleman was handing out bible tracts (pamphlets with scripture) and when he reached our group he handed the tract to Tina but did not hand one to Kathy and me. Tina was offended that she was singled out and she immediately spoke up. The man quickly corrected the situation and gave Kathy and me a tract and moved on. It was a very subtle event in my eyes; however, Tina noticed the pass over immediately. As if she is the only one that needed Jesus since she was from the neighborhood! I thought- wow- this guy should have recognized this and gave us all one in the first place. What was he thinking?
Later in the morning, I was in the midst of handing out bread and I offered some bread to guy that looked as though he was from the neighborhood. He politely declined and told me that he had plenty of bread. Well, as it turned out, he was actually there serving and helping out with the ministry. I assumed due to his dress and skin color that he also was from the neighborhood. Wow- strike two! Now I was the one doing the profiling! Again, the oversight was subtle and certainly not intentional. However, I did essentially the same thing- I concluded something based solely on his appearance.
Making assumptions based on appearance is tricky territory. The guy you see in the tattered clothes could actually be a millionaire. We tend to react based on what our experiences tell us, and this may lead to bad information. We must be very careful when we consider the hearts of others. Even the most subtle oversights like these are difficult for those that are in a fragile condition. Make sure that you handle the hearts of others like a good surgeon; gently, deliberately and with great care!