There have been a lot of trending words and phrases since the start of 2020; words that would not have made complete sense to us just a half a year ago: social distancing, new normal, flattening the curve, 6 feet apart. I believe as we begin to come out of the haze and fog of this Corona Virus, one of the words that may not be talked about often, but needs to be in the forefront of our minds, is the word “assumption”.
Assumption: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
It’s easy to make assumptions, isn’t it? It’s easy to see or hear something and assume we know the whole story and go on our merry way thinking we have all the facts. We accept our perceived reality as actual reality and begin to make judgements based on what we believe happened. And, because we still live in bodies of flesh and battle pride and our own sin each and every day, we are prone to think the worst of others, not the best. We are prone to doubt the motives and actions of others, to not give them the benefit of the doubt. We become judge and jury.
“The one who gives an answer before he listens – this is foolishness and disgrace for him.” (Proverbs 18:13)
Ken Sande (author of The Peacemaker) describes judging as “looking for other’s faults and, without valid and sufficient reason, forming unfavorable opinions of their qualities, words, actions or motives. In simple terms, it means looking for the worst in others.” Not a pretty picture…but one that we have all been guilty of, right? How easy it is to make an assumption, form an opinion and then make a judgment all within the space between our ears and in a matter of seconds. The average brain weighs about 3 pounds…but the effects that our thoughts produce can carry with them a far greater weight, in our own lives and in the lives of others.
Why isn’t she wearing a mask? Did you just see the two of them hug at church? I heard they are still going ahead with that birthday party and there is sure to be more than 10 people there. We’ve been back to church for over a month and I still haven’t seen so-and-so…I bet they are just using the whole virus as an excuse to sleep in on Sundays. Do you know what city they traveled to over the weekend? I can’t believe we are actually singing at church.
“A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2)
Over the next few months, many of us will take dips in pools and head to lakes, rivers or any other body of water that we can swim in…but I also fear we are going to be prone to swim in the waters of assumption and judgments this summer, too. And the currents found in these dangerous waters are ones that lead us further away from love and grace, and have the ability to drown friendships and relationships if we are not careful.
Paul exhorts the Colossians in chapter 3 to “put to death what belongs to your earthly nature” and instead “as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.” ( Colossians 3:5a, 12-13)
There are many things God calls us to “put on” in these verses that need much thoughtful meditation…but one that has been on my heart these past couple of weeks (thanks to a chapter in the book Feminine Appeal) is kindness. Jerry Bridges defines kindness as “a sincere desire for the happiness of others” and he is quick to link goodness to this virtue, as well, defining it as “the activity calculated to advance that happiness.” Two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Kindness is seen in our heart motives and goodness is the overflow of a heart that is considering others as more important than ourselves.
This summer, we will battle issues of the conscience as described in Romans 14. Only it won’t be over food and drink. Instead it will be over things like masks or no masks, parties or no parties, travel or no travel and a host of other decisions that can quickly divide if we allow them to. I pray that as we pursue the heart of Jesus…as we pursue kindness and seek to live out goodness, we might be a blessing to those around us and shine forth the glory of our King.
- be convinced Biblically of why we are doing what we do (Romans 14:5)
- give thanks in all things (Romans 14:6)
- live for the Lord and His glory (Romans 14:8)
- not intentionally put a stumbling block or pitfall in the way of another (Romans 14:13)
- walk according to love and not seek to hurt each other (Romans 14:15)
- pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another (Romans 14:19)
May we live as ambassadors for Christ and not ourselves (2 Cor. 5:18-21), spreading the aroma of His truth and His character to those around us (2 Cor. 2:14). Let’s work hard to outdo one another in showing honor (Rom. 12:10) and I pray we take our assumptions to the foot of the cross and trust the One who is “the way, the truth and the life” to work out His good purposes through all our preferences and persuasions!