A Short Story About Tackling Prejudice, And What The Bible Says About Despising People, Judging By Appearances, And God's Mercy
This page contains Bible quotes on prejudice and related topics, and firstly, an account of an experiment that was done to find out what would help children get on with each other better.
"Although some people are generally more prejudiced than others, the problem is so pervasive and so widespread that it seems nobody is immune. ...
"In the Summer of 1954 a small group of eleven-year-old boys, all white, healthy, middle-class youngsters, all strangers to one another, arrived at a 200-acre camp. The boys spent the first week or so hiking, swimming, boating and camping out. After a while they gave themselves a group name and printed it on their caps and t-shirts. At first the boys thought they were the only ones at the camp. Soon, however, they discovered that there was a second group, and that tournaments had been arranged between the two groups. What these boys didn't know was that they were subjects in an elaborate study conducted by Nuzafer Sherif and his colleagues. Parents had given permission for their sons to take part in an experiment for a study of competitiveness and co-operation. The two groups were brought in separately and only after each had formed its own culture was the other's presence revealed. The Rattlers and the Eagles were ready to meet!
"They did so under tense circumstances, competing against each other in football, a treasure hunt, a tug of war, and other events. The winning team of each event was awarded points. The tournament winner was promised a trophy, medals and other prizes. Almost overnight the groups turned into hostile antagonists and their rivalry escalated into a full-scale war. Group flags were burned, cabins were ransacked, and a food fight that resembled a riot exploded in the mess hall. Keep in mind that the subjects in this study were well-adjusted boys, not street gang members. Yet as Sherif (1966) noted, a naive observer would have thought the boys were "wicked, disturbed and vicious".
"Creating a monster through competition was easy. Restoring the peace, however, was not. First the experimenters tried saying nice things to the Rattlers about the Eagles and vice versa; but the propaganda campaign did not work. Then the two groups were brought together under non-competitive and relaxed circumstances; but that didn't help either.
"What did eventually work was the introduction of ... mutual goals that could be achieved only by co-operation between groups. For example, the experimenters arranged for the camp truck to break down and both groups were needed to pull it up a steep hill. These activities worked like a charm! By the end of camp the two groups were so friendly that they insisted on travelling home on the same bus."
Luke chapter 10 (NLT)
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: "Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?"
26 Jesus replied, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?"
27 The man answered, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
28 "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!"
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
30 Jesus replied with an illustration:
"A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 "By chance a Jewish priest came along; but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 "Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity. 34 Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.
35 "The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. 'If his bill runs higher than that,' he said, 'I'll pay the difference the next time I am here.'
36 "Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?" Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, "The one who showed him mercy."
Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same."
The Samaritans were apparently people traditionally despised and hated by the Jews of Jesus' day, because they were descended from people who worshiped other gods and were thus considered spiritually unclean, and had been brought in by an invading foreign army from elsewhere hundreds of years before Jesus' time to occupy Jewish land, in place of Jews the army forced out of it.
Colossians chapter 3 (CEV)
11 It doesn't matter if you are a Greek or a Jew, or if you are circumcised or not. You may even be a barbarian or [uncivilized), and you may be a slave or a free person. Yet Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
12 God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. 13 Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. 14 Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together. 15 Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful. 16 Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other.
Leviticus chapter 19 (NLT)
1 The LORD ... said to Moses, 2 "Say this to the entire community of Israel: You must be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy. 33 "Do not exploit the foreigners who live in your land. 34 They should be treated like everyone else, and you must love them as you love yourself."
1 Corinthians chapter 1 (TEV)
26 Now remember what you were, my friends, when God called you. From the human point of view few of you were wise or powerful or of high social standing. 27 God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful. 28 He chose what the world looks down on and despises and thinks is nothing, in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29 This means that no one can boast in God's presence. 30 But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be our wisdom. By him we are put right with God; we become God's holy people and are set free.
31 So then, as the scripture says, "Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done."
Luke chapter 21 (TEV)
1 Jesus looked around and saw rich people dropping their gifts in the Temple treasury, 2 and he also saw a very poor widow dropping in two little copper coins. 3 He said, "I tell you that this poor widow put in more than all the others. 4 For the others offered their gifts from what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, gave all she had to live on."
Proverbs chapter 14 (TEV)
21 If you want to be happy, be kind to the poor; it is a sin to despise anyone.
James chapter 2 (TEV)
1 My friends, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, you must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance. 2 Suppose a rich man wearing a gold ring and fine clothes comes to your meeting, and a poor man in ragged clothes also comes. 3 If you show more respect to the well-dressed man and say to him, "Have this best seat here," but say to the poor man, "Stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my feet," 4 then you are guilty of creating distinctions among yourselves and of making judgments based on evil motives.
5 Listen, my dear friends! God chose the poor people of this world to be rich in faith and to possess the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. 6 But you dishonor the poor!
8 You will be doing the right thing if you obey the law of the Kingdom, which is found in the scripture, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." 9 But if you treat people according to their outward appearance, you are guilty of sin, and the Law condemns you as a lawbreaker.
1 Corinthians chapter 4 (TEV)
6 None of you should be proud of one person and despise another. 7 Who made you superior to others? Didn't God give you everything you have? Well, then, how can you boast, as if what you have were not a gift?
11 To this very moment we go hungry and thirsty; we are clothed in rags; we are beaten; we wander from place to place; 13 We are no more than this world's garbage; we are the scum of the earth to this very moment!
1 Corinthians chapter 15 (TEV)
1 And now I want to remind you, my friends, of the Good News which I preached to you, which you received, and on which your faith stands firm. 2 That is the gospel, the message that I preached to you. You are saved by the gospel if you hold firmly to it-unless it was for nothing that you believed. 3 I passed on to you what I received, which is of the greatest importance: that Christ died for our sins, as written in the Scriptures; 4 that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later, as written in the Scriptures; 5 that he appeared to Peter and then to all twelve apostles. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred of his followers at once, most of whom are still alive, although some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, and afterward to all the apostles. 8 Last of all he appeared also to me-even though I am like someone whose birth was abnormal.
9 For I am the least of all the apostles-I do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted God's church. 10 But by God's grace I am what I am, and the grace that he gave me was not without effect.
1 Timothy chapter 1 (TEV)
12 I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength for my work. I thank him for considering me worthy and appointing me to serve him, 13 even though in the past I spoke evil of him and persecuted and insulted him. But God was merciful to me because I did not yet have faith and so did not know what I was doing. 14 And our Lord poured out his abundant grace on me and gave me the faith and love which are ours in union with Christ Jesus. 15 This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16 but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life.
17 To the eternal King, immortal and invisible, the only God-to him be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.
Matthew chapter 9 (NLT)
9 As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting at his tax-collection booth. "Come, be my disciple," Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
10 That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. 11 The Pharisees were indignant. "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?" they asked his disciples.
Luke chapter 5 (NLT)
31 Jesus answered them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor - sick people do. 32 I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough."
Matthew chapter 21 (NLT)
28 "But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' 29 The son answered, 'No, I won't go,' but later he changed his mind and went anyway.
30 Then the father told the other son, 'You go,' and he said, 'Yes, sir, I will.' But he didn't go. 31 Which of the two was obeying his father?"
They replied, "The first, of course."
Then Jesus explained his meaning: "I assure you, [that formerly] corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the way to life, and you didn't believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to turn from your sins and believe him."
Romans chapter 3 (NLT)
22 We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. 23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. 24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. 25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus. 27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
Titus chapter 2 (NLT)
11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right.
1 Samuel chapter 16 (NLT)
7 The LORD said ... "The LORD doesn't make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person's thoughts and intentions."
Luke chapter 7 (TEV)
36 A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him, and Jesus went to his house and sat down to eat. 37 In that town was a woman who lived a sinful life. She heard that Jesus was eating in the Pharisee's house, so she brought an alabaster jar full of perfume 38 and stood behind Jesus, by his feet, crying and wetting his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them, and poured the perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself, "If this man really were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him; he would know what kind of sinful life she lives!"
40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Yes, Teacher," he said, "tell me."
41 "There were two men who owed money to a moneylender," Jesus began. "One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. 42 Neither of them could pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Which one, then, will love him more?"
43 "I suppose," answered Simon, "that it would be the one who was forgiven more."
"You are right," said Jesus. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your home, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You did not welcome me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing my feet since I came. 46 You provided no olive oil for my head, but she has covered my feet with perfume. 47 I tell you, then, the great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven. But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love."
48 Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."
49 The others sitting at the table began to say to themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" 50 But Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
1 John chapter 1 (NLT)
8 If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
Proverbs chapter 21 (TEV)
2 You may think that everything you do is right, but remember that the Lord judges your motives.
Proverbs chapter 17 (TEV)
3 Gold and silver are tested by fire, and a person's heart is tested by the Lord.
Matthew chapter 7 (NLT)
2 Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. 3 And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.
James chapter 2 (NLT)
12 So whenever you speak, or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law of love, the law that set you free. 13 For there will be no mercy for you if you have not been merciful to others. But if you have been merciful, then God's mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you.
1 Corinthians chapter 4 (TEV)
5 So you should not pass judgment on anyone before the right time comes. Final judgment must wait until the Lord comes; he will bring to light the dark secrets and expose the hidden purposes of people's minds.
Luke chapter 20 (NLT)
1 ... Jesus was teaching and preaching the Good News in the Temple,
45 Then, with the crowds listening, he turned to his disciples and said, 46 "Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they love to parade in flowing robes and to have everyone bow to them as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and at banquets. 47 But they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property, and then, to cover up the kind of people they really are, they make long prayers in public. Because of this, their punishment will be the greater."
Matthew chapter 23 (CEV)
1 Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
2 The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. 3 So obey everything they teach you, but don't do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else. 4 They pile heavy burdens on people's shoulders and won't lift a finger to help.
5 Everything they do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels for everyone to see. [The Law of Moses commanded people to put tassels on their clothes as memory aids to obey Bible commands.] 6 They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. 7 And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers. 8 But none of you should be called a teacher. You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters. 9 Don't call anyone on earth your father. All of you have the same Father in heaven. 10 None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader. 11 Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others. 12 If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.
23 You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you're in for trouble! You give God a tenth of the spices from your garden, such as mint, dill, and cumin. Yet you neglect the more important matters of the Law, such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the important things you should have done, though you should not have left the others undone either. 24 You blind leaders! You strain out a small fly but swallow a camel.
25 You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you're in for trouble! You wash the outside of your cups and dishes, while inside there is nothing but greed and selfishness. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of a cup, and then the outside will also be clean.
27 You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! You're nothing but show-offs. You're like tombs that have been whitewashed. On the outside they are beautiful, but inside they are full of bones and filth. 28 That's what you are like. Outside you look good, but inside you are evil and only pretend to be good.
33 You are nothing but snakes and the children of snakes! How can you escape going to hell?
Matthew chapter 5 (NLT)
1 One day as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples and sat down to teach them. 2 This is what he taught them:
Matthew chapter 6 (TEV)
1 "Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven.
2 "So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 3 But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. 4 Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.
5 "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 6 But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.
7 "When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. 8 Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him."
1 Peter chapter 3 (TEV)
3 You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. 4 Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God's sight.