An Error in Judgment

Answer for Students
Unit 12 - The Sermon on the Mount

TEXT: Matthew 7:1-5, 15-23; Romans 2:1-3

That afternoon, Jaiwon learned that jumping to conclusions could lead to big mistakes.

Jaiwon spun the wheels of his miniature model racer as he thought about how many days he had spent getting it ready for this race. The hardest part had been getting the weight right. There were no motors in the racers, they just coasted down a long sloping track. The heavier the car, the faster it went. But if a car was too heavy it would be disqualified. Jaiwon had carefully weighed his car and trimmed the lead weight until his racer was just at the maximum—eight ounces.

Carter came up behind Jaiwon and stared over his shoulder. “Wow, Jaiwon,” he said with grudging admiration, “that’s a great looking car. I don’t think the wheels on my racer will . . .”

The boys were interrupted by another voice. “Yeah, your car is pretty nice, Jaiwon, but it will never beat mine!” Jaiwon looked up to see Elias standing nearby with a sneer on his face.

Jaiwon just smiled at Elias. “Yours might win,” he replied. “You’ll get your chance.”

Just then, one of the men who was putting up the race track called to the boys, “Hey, could you guys give us a hand for a minute?” Jaiwon went over and steadied the support that the man had indicated.

“Thanks for helping,” the man said when the track was in place. Jaiwon went over and picked up his car. Now he had to hurry. It was almost time for the race to start and he still hadn’t had his car cleared by the judges. He hurried over to the table. A minute later, one of the judges was placing his racer on the scale.

“Let’s see here. You know that the racers cannot weigh over eight ounces.”

The scale dial spun—six, seven, eight, eight and one-quarter ounces!

“I’m sorry,” the judge said with a frown, “I’m afraid I’ll have to disqualify your car. It is over the weight limit.” He turned the racer over. “Here’s your problem, Son. You don’t need this second lead weight on the bottom of your car.”

“But I didn’t . . . ,” Jaiwon blurted out. “How . . . ? How . . . ?”

Suddenly he knew the answer. Someone had fastened that extra weight onto his racer while he had been helping with the race track!

Elias. It had to be Elias. Jaiwon remembered his sneering look as he said, “Yours will never beat mine!” He had tried to make sure it wouldn’t.

In a daze, Jaiwon watched the race go on without his car. Two at a time they sped down the track. At last only two cars were left—Carter’s and Elias’s!

A brief timeout was called to steady the race track. No one but Jaiwon seemed to notice Carter slip over by Elias’s car and quickly bend an axle ever so slightly, but one of the judges spotted his action.

“I knew my car could beat anybody’s except Jaiwon’s and Elias’s,” Carter admitted brokenly to the group which quickly gathered around him. “I really wanted to win. Jaiwon’s car was easy—I just pushed the extra weight onto it and he wasn’t even in the race.”

Jaiwon heard no more. He had been so sure that Elias had done it, but Carter was the guilty one!

Elias was storming. “Why you little punk!” he shouted at Carter. “What do you mean by wrecking my car?”

Jaiwon wasn’t happy about what had happened either, but his attitude was different. “Why didn’t you tell me it meant so much to you, Carter? Maybe we could have built a racer together.”

His quiet remark made Elias turn to him in amazement. “You’re not mad? He ruined your chances for the race too!”

“No, I’m not mad, Elias. Sure, I’m disappointed. But there will be other races. And by the way, I owe you an apology. All through the race I kept thinking it was probably you who put the weight on my racer.”

Elias looked even more astonished. “Can’t say I blame you. I did sound off at you before the race.” He turned back to Carter and shrugged his shoulders, for the moment speechless.

A few minutes later an announcement came over the loudspeaker—the race would be re-scheduled for the next day. He would have a chance to race his car after all. Jaiwon smiled to himself. Oh well, this afternoon hadn’t been a total loss. He had learned an important lesson about judging others.