Can you walk a mile in another man’s shoes? Maybe a better question is if it’s worth your while to walk that mile in the first place.

There’s an old proverb, slightly altered depending on where you hear it, that goes something like this:

You cannot judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.

While I understand the intent behind the quote — essentially, that you should not judge someone because you cannot fully comprehend what he goes through in life and how he deals with it — I cannot fully agree with its premise.

I’ll take it a step further and say you should not judge someone at all because you will never gain his perspective.

Here’s my take:

A journey in another man’s shoes does not give you his perspective. It gives you a different angle from your own perspective.

Ryan Glab (12.21.14)

What is perspective? defines it as so: “the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship.” By this definition, no one can ever have the same perspective as another because everybody’s life experiences, the facts and knowledge and ideas they’ve accumulated over the years, are 100% unique to them.

So, if we were to quite literally walk a mile in another person’s shoes, we might have a different pain tolerance for that person’s shoes. We might walk at a different rate. We might encounter different people or objects or events based on our rate of speed. We might think different thoughts than that person does. Our senses may react differently. We might stop to adjust the tightness of our shoelaces. We might have different weather than that person does.

The list of subtle variations can go on endlessly, but I think you get the point.

Bottom line: its best not to judge a person at all because you’ll never have full empathy for what he is going through. Rather, trust in the Lord’s way and view others as He would … well, using his stated principles but from your own perspective, that is. For His are shoes that truly cannot be filled.