Presumption may be the preeminent personal problem that perplexes us today. Should I automatically assume that my wife is the one who dinged the car? Can we really be so sure about the motive of that politician? Is my coworker really able to look at a guy and know that he is an interior decorator?
The online dictionary defines presumption this way: It is supposing that something is the case, based on probability. The situation may or may not be true – but we may nevertheless presume it is.
And you know what? Presumption can hurt!
I am a grandpa and when I am in a public place with my grandsons, my daughter expects me to escort them when they go to the men’s room. She is concerned for their safety. I get that, but it can sometimes be embarrassing.
One day he had to go – so I had to go. He went into the stall, locked me out and sat down. I leaned my back against the wall and settled in for a long winter’s nap. It was just him and me.
But then another man entered the bathroom and nervously looked my way. I think I appeared to him to be loitering in the men’s room.
And of course, my grandson couldn’t be seen. So, the man used the urinal while I tried to figure out what to do. Do I look up or down or sideways? Do I whistle? Do I talk to the guy? No that would be creepy?
Meanwhile he kept looking back over his shoulder to make sure I hadn’t moved.
And my grandson, well he must have fallen down the toilet. He had been in there 8 minutes, which in bathroom time is like 8 years.
How could I make it clear that I was waiting on my grandson? Then it came to me. I said to the boy, “Hey buddy – ya done yet?”
But my little buddy said nothing. You could hear a pin drop. He was too embarrassed to respond. I wanted to choke him.
Meanwhile the man who stood at one of three urinals, presumed I was talking to him. “Hey buddy – ya done yet?”
He froze and then finished up and sprinted out of the restroom – and didn’t even wash his hands.
It’s just dumb to presume that something is the case before we have the facts.
This truth echoes throughout the Scripture – from the Old to the New Testament. Solomon wrote, “The one who gives an answer before he listens— that is his folly and his shame.” – Proverbs 18:13.
It is foolish and even shameful, he says, to argue a point, or to make a judgment or level an accusation until we have first gathered the facts by thoroughly listening to the person.
James wrote in his epistle, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19
He first urged us to understand. Why – because we mostly don’t. We do not fully appreciate the need to be quick to listen and anxious to understand the facts, and then to cautiously answer.
Nicodemus the Pharisee went to bat for Jesus. He said to his peers, “Our law doesn’t condemn a man unless it first hears from him and learns what he is doing, does it?” – John 7:51
It was a principle of the Jewish Law that the accused had the right to speak and fully explain himself before any judgment took place – a great policy for us as well
Maybe we should become askers instead of accusers. “Honey I noticed a ding in the car, do you know anything about that?” A much better approach than, “When did you mar my car?”
I wish the man at the urinal would have asked me a question like, “Hey, how are you doing.” It would have been so easy to say, “Pretty good, just waiting on my grandson. He must be constipated.”
OK TMI. But you get the idea.
Bible references from the NET Bible ®