I was a pregnant waitress, almost nine months along, working the overnight shift.
She was a stripper, working at the strip club/bar just a dozen or so blocks away.
I'd served her food and coffee every night after she got off work for a couple weeks. The drunks in the restaurant would try to take her home. The older people coming in for early morning coffee would sit on the other side of the restaurant. And I would simply talk to her about her life, and my life, in between waiting on others.
The night before she was heading out of town to go work at another strip club, she came in as usual, and left me a good size tip on the table. She paid her bill and left; then came back in a few minutes later and handed me more money. "This tip is for your baby - get him something nice. Thank you for the short friendship."
I could have written her off because of her current career choice. She could have written me off for being pregnant with my sixth child. But the truth ran much deeper than what could be seen on the outside.
"Don't judge a book by its cover."
We've all heard that old adage. And we've all heard the arguments about whether or not we, as Christians, should be judging others. In fact, I know many people who believe we should judge (as long as we aren't telling the person they're going to hell) others based on their sins. These are the kind of people who probably wouldn't have waited on this person. Or, if they did, they would have preached to her about how sinful she was and how she had to turn her life around now or face hell. Or, in some other way try to make her feel like crap for the choices she'd made.
But how many would have looked beyond her job? How many would have been given the opportunity to hear this woman's story? This was a woman who'd managed to overcome many obstacles in her life - abuse, rape, etc. She was a believer in Christ, and very loving and forgiving to those who'd hurt her in the past. She was trying to raise a young child on her own - the product of a rape, though she never acted like this child was anything less than a gift.
And here she was, barely able to make ends meet, giving me well over what she could afford to make sure my baby was taken care of.
Yes, she was a stripper. She was also a wonderful, beautiful child of God.
Don't judge until you've read the whole story
Personally, I don't think we should be judging at all... but to avoid the whole argument of we should judge the sin, not the sinner; or that the Bible tells us we're allowed to judge as long as we're judging righteously; or any of the other arguments that tend to follow any statement I make regarding "do not judge"... I will simply say, do not judge until you've read the whole story.
What does this mean?
Get to know the person. That homosexual you want to inform is going to hell? Sit down and listen to him. Don't preach. Don't tell him what your beliefs are. Sit and get to know him and his story. That woman who is walking into an abortion clinic? Talk to her. Have an actual conversion. Listen to her. Find out her story.
We all have a story. Within each of our stories, we are going to find a lot of sin, a lot of doubt, a lot of hardship. We're going to find a lot of accomplishments, a lot of obstacles we've overcome, a lot of joys. And by truly listening to another person's story, we're going to find that there is so much more to that person than what you see. There is more to someone than their sexuality. There is more to someone than that they're considering abortion (or already had one). There is more to someone than the sins for which you want to persecute them...
Just as there is more to YOU than what someone else is seeing right now.