The other morning I was dozing a bit before getting out of bed for the day. As I slipped off into a last minute dream, I was awoken by Regina. She was cuddling up next to me and placed her arm on me. I thought it was so wonderful. As my eyes remained closed, I was puzzled why Regina was licking my ear. Quickly, however, I realized it was not Regina at all, but our 85 pound dog Osa who had jumped up on the bed in order to show me some 7 AM affection. When I suddenly got up to wipe Osa’s slobber off of my ear, once again I was reminded that when we jump to conclusions, more often than not we are mistaken.
Human beings jump to conclusions all the time around all kinds of things. People jump to conclusions about my positions on issues simply because they know I am a Christian. Republicans and Democrats continually make assumptions about each other. Folks certainly jump to conclusions around issues of ethnicity, age, gender, orientation, income levels, and where a person is from. There is a negative consequence around such a tendency because more often than not our assumptions inhibit us from getting to know the person right in front of us. Jumping to conclusions is not only a potential relationship blocker, but can lead to consequences that aren’t so great.
While people jumped to conclusions about Jesus all the time, I don’t find evidence of Jesus doing the same thing in any situation. Scripture, however, is full of stories of people jumping to conclusions. While the Israelites were wandering around the desert following their liberation, one day Moses headed up a mountain to spend time with God. After he had been gone a while, the people jumped to the conclusion that Moses might not return. As a result, they melted gold and began worshiping the Golden Calf.
Three additional examples of jumping to conclusions come to mind. Naaman who was commander of an Army, suffered from Leprosy. The King under whom he commanded, sent a note to the King of Israel asking him to heal Naaman. The King of Israel jumped to the conclusion that the request was a ruse to start a war. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Another example comes from some of the people around Jesus. They jumped to the conclusion that the Messiah, someone like Jesus, could never come from Jesus’ hometown. And finally, on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit filled many people including the disciples, others who were observing jumped to the conclusion that the disciples were drunk. As a result, they missed out taking in an amazing event from the right perspective.
There are endless examples within scripture and within our own lives. When we jump to conclusions, not only are we often wrong, but we end up needlessly stressed or worn out because our minds get so worked up. In addition to this, however, when we jump to conclusions we are not being fair to other people, nor are we putting ourselves in the position to discover the truth of what is happening.
I invite you to join me in thinking about how many of us sometimes jump to conclusions, the impact that such an action has had in the past, and what we might do to temper such a tendency. For me, I know the first step is awareness or becoming aware of when it is happening. The second is to call it what it is, remembering more often than not, we needlessly put ourselves and potentially others through turmoil when we make assumptions. Now I know the next time Osa licks my ear, I won’t be fooled into thinking it is someone else. Rather, I will enjoy her love and affection and it will serve as a reminder to pause before making an assumption.