You can tell about someone after awhile

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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By Charles Qualls

You can tell about someone after a while. Elizabeth and I celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary today. You can tell about someone after a while.

Actually, you can tell a lot about someone pretty instantly. It’s why dogs are such good readers of people. They, unlike we humans, trust their instincts. I’d have to think on this, to see if I actually mean what I am about to say.

But I don’t think I have ever seen an otherwise gentle dog growl at a complete stranger and be totally wrong. We had a dog once. He was actually the best dog I ever had. A fierce guardian and protector of us, and smart! He was so smart that he would learn cars and people. He had a keen sense of who belonged at our place and who didn’t.

We had a family friend who came over occasionally. King just never did like him. He would bark ferociously at him, and one of us would have to hold the dog by the collar to let this particular man out of his car and into the house. We had King for 14 years. I was 22 years old when we finally lost him. By then, I was old enough to figure out why he had growled and barked at this one fellow so much. I saw what King saw, and knew he just wasn’t that good of a guy.

With compassion and hope, we say “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Because sometimes that has turned out to be a wise bit of caution. However, it’s actually likely that our gut instinct can be more accurate than our other, more rational impressions gathered in the first few minutes around someone.

In any event, whether you are accurate in your gut read, or hopefully your more rational interactions have given you an impression you trusted, you can tell about someone after a while. In Acts 10: 34-43, Peter attested that he had gotten to know Jesus. Up close and personally.

Some have spoken over the years about corporate “probation” periods that were built into hiring policies. There were good reasons behind them, of course. They aren’t foolproof though, are they.

The three-month probation for new hires seems to be most standard. One person remarked, “Three months … 90 days. So on the 91st day, you find out what you really have.” After a while, true colors show. After a while, the substance of a person is there to see. Whether you were right initially or not.

Peter had traveled with Judas, you know. You can tell about someone after a while. He had also travelled with Jesus. Jesus Christ was our model, and not Judas. Jesus was not just our Savior. He is what we are all supposed to aspire to be.

Peter knew what was truly important to our Lord versus what all has become important to some church folks over the centuries. Those lists don’t always look quite the same. He knew what was cultural versus what was eternal to Jesus. We read a summary of their words in the Bible, their conversations and Jesus’ teachings in English translations. Peter heard them in real time. In the Aramaic. All of them, and in context. In a place and age that remains foreign to us.

He knew what Jesus felt strongly about vs. what Jesus felt passionate about. You can tell about someone after a while.

St. Francis of Assisi is supposed to have said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Now truth is, no one is sure if he really said that in precisely those words or not. Whoever said it, though, was right.

This is what Peter and all of Jesus’ disciples were able to do the most of — and the best of — after He left them. The going about and doing good, and bringing healing to peoples’ lives, that preached the very best sermon about Jesus that anyone could have.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.