Jameis Winston came into the NFL as the # 1 pick last year after a very impressive college career that included a National Championship and a Heisman Trophy. However, with Winston’s questionable and highly publicized off-the-field behavior, the Tampa Bay Bucs were taking a chance on him.

As a rookie Winston ended up putting those character concerns behind him, and surprising people with his successful performance on and off the field. He seems to have turned the corner, and made positive changes both personally and professionally.

His new offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, recently said, “I think that’s one thing that’s a misnomer. I think from the outside you would’ve looked at it with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is. I was dead wrong….

“I think that’s just general in life, especially with social media today, but even before then, without knowing a person, we make judgments without ever being around them. I think that’s just common; that’s not just Jameis, that’s people.”

Coach Monken speaks truth here, and brings up an issue worth thinking about in sports and life. Unfortunately we can easily attach labels to people based on their past mistakes, and assume they’re a certain way because of the (little) information we have available. We judge people based on things like their appearance, reputation, race, and family background.

But, when we actually get to know people for who they really are, we can get a completely different picture. Since we all carry baggage around, it’s important to remember that the same God who is transforming us is also transforming others.

Jesus tells us in John 7:24 (NLT), Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” The ESV translates the same passage this way:“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Every day when we meet or interact with people, or observe the actions of others from a distance, we can immediately jump to conclusions or write them off forever. Today, let’s not miss out on potential relationships by misjudging people and not taking the time to get to know them.

As followers of Jesus, let’s judge correctly and remember the grace Jesus shows us is what we need to extend to others. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me to love people and judge rightly. Help me not to forget Your transforming grace is at work in my life and others. I pray I would get to know people better, give them a chance, and not jump to conclusions. Help me to understand people for who they are, instead of who I think they are. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.