the bottomline

Don't Judge By Its Cover
Tuesday, September 8, 2020 by Dan Allen

A good example of judging a book by its cover is lima beans (or some call them pole beans).

I buy a bunch of them late each summer. I like lima beans. Not necessarily for the taste, because they don’t have much. I like the texture, sure, but it’s a fond childhood memory that I replicate when I’m eating them. The quest is to see how many lima’s one can get on a folk. If they’re firm, not overcooked, and depending the size, getting more than four or five can be a challenge. Do that a couple of times, and they are off your plate. Taking them one–at–a–time and a kid who doesn’t care for them could be sitting a long time before their plate is clear. 

We, like every kid who is raised correctly, had to eat our vegetables. There was no getting around this, although I tried once with sweet peas still in the pod. Peas are meant to be de–podded. I’m quite sure that is not a word, but you get the gist. Peas should be free rolling on a plate, not stuck in the pod in which they grew. On one occasion, if I recall correctly, I stuffed them into my cheek, excused myself and went down to the basement. I may or may not have spit them out. All I know is the pea in the pod was slimy and disgusting. 

Cooks know that you would never leave lima beans in their pod because the pods are too hard to eat. Tomatoes and grapes, to name two fruits, and many vegetables like squash, zucchini, and peppers, are meant to have their outer skin eaten. That’s where the nutrition is, my mom would say. But God designed the lima to come out of its shell and shine. The pod, depending on how close to the ground it was, can be kind of gross with a mixture of dirt and grim. Sometimes a little mold could be on it if it was too rainy right before harvesting. But once you break that pod open, there they are—little green, sparkling jewels ready to be cooked and eaten, or as my dog likes them, eaten raw.

So, if you just look at the pod of the lima bean, you’d never open it. You’d move onto something else. And that brings me back to my original statement—it’s a good illustration of not judging a book by its cover. This English idiom is driven by the thought that outward appearances may not tell the whole story of someone. We are very quick to label people based on how they look or speak. But that’s not a legitimate way of making an evaluation.

Jesus spoke against judging by outward appearances. He said in no uncertain terms—“Do not judge by appearances.” At the time, He was being judged by people who did not really know who He was and why He did what He did. Some wondered how He could teach since He had little training, unlike the religious leaders. Others questioned how He could break the law by healing a person on the Sabbath. Then there were those who suggested He had a demon. Jesus knew these folks were ignorant because they based things on their feelings of what they saw. He was able to miraculously heal, profoundly teach, and live an exemplary life because He was God in the flesh. Not knowing this and just taking Him at face value could confuse someone as to who He really was. They were judging a book by its cover.

I think Martin Luther King, Jr., agreed when he dreamed of someday having a color blind society where people were judged “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Perhaps if we looked at everyone as a lima bean, we might solve some of the racial challenges that plague our nation. Then again, if you are like many of the Facebook friends think lima beans are gross, stick with the cover of a book.


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