You can’t judge a book by its cover.  Have you heard that phrase before?  Sure you have. 

At some point you said something about someone else and then later, you felt guilty. But you probably didn’t change your opinion because let’s face it, we make snap judgments about people and things most of the time.

Of course, what that phrase is really saying is that you can’t judge someone based upon their appearance. Or rush to judgments.

When I was a toddler going to church with my parents, I quickly concluded that an older man who sat a couple rows behind us each Sunday was a mean ogre. He had to be because he looked so stern, with furrowed brows and a constant frown. Years later, I learned that he was one of the nicest guys on this planet.

When my son was 13 years old, he played on a club baseball team, the South Bay Sharks from Manhattan Beach, Calif., that traveled to a national tournament held in Omaha, Neb., held at the same time as the College World Series.

His team quickly ascended to the championship game after beating teams from Colorado and Illinois.

In the championship game, they faced a team from St. Louis that was made up of enough big kids to give the game a “men against boys appearance.

The St. Louis team and especially their parents, during warmups, quickly became cocky and arrogant while concluding that their gargantuan sons would have a big advantage and their team would dominate.

Then the game started and the leadoff hitter on my son’s team hit the ball a great distance out of the park. The ball didn’t just clear the centerfield fence, it soared well past it and a statement had been made and the outcome had more or less been decided. 

What’s the moral of that story? You can’t judge a book by its cover. And yet it’s more than that because, when it comes to judging a book by its cover, there’s another dimension.

Believe it or not, we all have a certain perception of ourselves that might not be accurate. It is a little like when a dog looks at itself in a mirror and thinks it is looking at another dog.

In some ways, we are the same way, because in a given situation we can’t actually observe, from an unbiased perspective, how we react.  Therefore others who watch our reactions might see a more accurate version of us than we do ourselves. 

The moral of that story is that we can’t overjudge others, and, in addition, we can’t overjudge ourselves.

In the Bible, in the book of John, there’s a verse where Christ says, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

An even more simplified version of that same statement might say this about judgment: Knock it off.

Kevin Holten is the executive producer of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.

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