When my husband was a guest speaker at a church in Illinois many years ago, I sat in the congregation with some friends. Mel preached a very moving sermon, expounding point after point. I thought, “WOW! What a great sermon!” When your wife is impressed, it must be good. However, a young man sitting on the aisle in front of me did not share my enthusiasm. He looked rather distant and kept reading a magazine. Granted, it was a Christian magazine, but he obviously wasn’t impressed or interested in what Mel had to say.
I sat there, getting more and more irritated. “How rude!” I thought. I tried not to glance at him, but my eyes kept drifting back in his direction. What was his problem? Didn’t he get it? Why bother to come to church?
If we really want people to give us the benefit of the doubt, then we’d best do that for them.
After church my friend said, “I’d like you to meet our newest member.” As she led me straight over to this disinterested fellow, she informed me, “Jeff is deaf and we don’t have anyone to sign for him yet, but he loves to come to church.” I also learned he could read lips if you spoke slowly, but not from a distance.
The lesson I learned is—don’t jump to conclusions. Things are not always what they appear to be.
Jumping to conclusions is like putting two and two together and getting five. When our minds race in the wrong direction, it can lead to false conclusions, stressful situations, flared tempers, and hurt feelings. Maybe that’s why God says not to judge others. But another scripture comes to mind when I reflect on how quick I was to label Jeff as rude and unspiritual. It’s found in Philippians 4:8, and reads: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I think this extends beyond just thinking “good thoughts” in general. I think it includes trying to think the best of others instead of imputing motives, making assumptions, and jumping to conclusions. If we really want people to give us the benefit of the doubt, then we’d best do that for them (Luke 6:31).
So I’m trying to take a closer look before jumping to conclusions. I could be leaping in the wrong direction.
Barbara Dahlgren, 2011