JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

Have you ever gotten mad at a driver that cut you off or pulled out in front of you almost causing a wreck?  Naturally, you assumed they were rude, impatient or just an idiot! 🙂   When you are shopping, does it irritate you that someone “cuts in line” or maybe you only have 2 items and someone is in the express lane with a whole cart full of groceries.

A few years ago the Lord started pointing out to me how many times I jump to a conclusion about someone’s motives or attitude before I have all the facts.  Most of the time I have not added to my sin by voicing my opinion to others.  Nevertheless, I allowed the uncharitable thoughts to run through my mind. Often those thoughts also ruined part of my day because I was angry at their perceived rude actions which in some way inconvenienced me.

The exercise of jumping to conclusions also is used frequently among Christians in the church.  How often have you assumed that someone just skipped church because they were lazy or were using God’s time for their own pleasure?  Have you ever been caught thinking or gossiping to someone else that one of your sisters in Christ obviously wastes her money on clothes, jewelry, furniture, etc. without getting all the facts?  Have you been offended because you heard part of a conversation and assumed the worst?

Matthew chapter 7 is often quoted by the world when they do not want us judging them for their unrighteous actions.  But our Savior was speaking to the religious people of the day who spent a lot of time judging the actions of others.  In verses 1 & 2 He tells us to Judge not, that ye be not  judged.  For with what judgement  ye  judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  In our modern English we are being told that we should be careful because others will judge us harshly if we are judgmental of them.  As humans, lacking the omniscient power of God, we tend to jump to conclusions based on our experience.  This would seem logical except for the fact that each of us has a different past and we tend to act and react according to what we have been taught by the lessons of life.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to be critical of someone else’s actions yet so hard to see that we are doing the same thing or worse?  God has an interesting way of pointing this out to us in verses 3-5 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye.   Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.  Ouch!  Our creator is calling us a hypocrite just because we can see so clearly the problems in another person’s life.  Never mind the fact that we have a similar sin in our own life.

Most of us find it very easy to judge others while ignoring the sins in our life that we should be working on.  Why is that?  Because we are sinful human beings and it takes hard work to change ourselves and fix our own problems but it is so simple to tell someone else how they can improve their lives and get right with God.  The illustration that I mentioned previously of a driver cutting me off is so perfect because inevitably within 24 hours I have found myself doing something similar.  What was my excuse?  Usually it was because I was daydreaming and not paying attention to those around me—oops.  Always the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that I was not so charitable about the other driver’s motives.  Is my face red! 🙂  It never even occurred to me that the other person could have simply made a mistake instead of deliberately trying to cause a wreck.

Romans 14:1 – 15:2 is an excellent passage to give us guidance on judging others as well as making sure that others have no valid reason to judge us.  The apostle Paul knew that there were, and would always be differing opinions in the church.  He wanted those of us that claimed to be brothers and sisters in Christ to understand that some “convictions” were not worth fighting over and definitely should not be used to judge another’s salvation.  Paul starts out by reminding us that many Christians are merely babes in Christ; therefore they do not always make wise decisions.  Add to that the fact that even though we are Christians we all come from different backgrounds with different personalities and gifts.  Just as our Creator did not make us all the same, He also gave us liberty to come to our own conclusions on some things that are not spelled out clearly in scripture.

Paul starts out the chapter by saying Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.  For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak eateth herbs.  Let not him that eateth depise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth:  for God hath received him.  Who are you to judge another’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.  Yea, he shall be holden up:  for God is able to make him stand.  Paul, by the inspiration of God, knew that even before Christians had the complete Word of God there would be multiple applications of scripture.

God gave us a free will and allows us time to grow and mature while developing our own convictions.  Our Savior wants us to be as patient with other Christians as we hope God and others are being with us.  The very first verse in Romans 14 commands us to receive immature Christians into our church. Accepting a babe in Christ into the church does not mean that we should be drawn into arguments over standards or preferences that are not clearly spelled out in Scripture.

We are reminded that some things are none of our business because we are not the master of other people.  As Christians we must remember that all of us will answer to God someday for our actions and reactions.  We only have to answer for what we do or omit doing here on earth.  God will not hold us accountable for that Christian sister that is inconsistent, wasteful, or dresses “incorrectly”.  What we will give an account for is our attitude toward others and how much we did to encourage them to grow and make wise choices.

The Lord tells us in verses 12-13 So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s wayInstead of judging others we should be looking for ways to help weak Christians become stronger and improve their walk with God.  When you are tempted to think or say something unkind about another person, turn your thoughts toward your own actions.  Ask the Lord to show you how you can be a better example to encourage others to grow.

If you are concerned about inconsistent Christians then ask yourself, “am I so faithful in my church attendance and service to God that people know that I must be sick or out of town if they don’t see me at a church function.”  If the answer is “no” then maybe you should be checking your priorities.  It is hard to encourage others to be faithful in church when the “mature” Christians use excuses to skip services.

Maybe you think another girl or woman should dress more modestly or appropriately.  Check yourself in the mirror.  Are you setting a good example?  If so, that is great!  Then pray for her and look for opportunities to give her a compliment.  The Bible has plenty to say about how we should use pleasant and encouraging words.  Proverbs 16: 24 tells us Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.  In Proverbs 31:26  the Lord teaches us about the words of a virtuous woman:  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.   Mary Kay Ash used to tell her consultants that the way to help others was to “praise to success”.  We can accomplish so much more if we will use our words to encourage instead of discourage.

Another note on the subject of how someone dresses.  They may have financial problems.  Could you offer to take them shopping or go through your closet and share some of your abundance.  We in America often have closets full of clothes that we have not worn for years yet we keep them because we just can’t make a decision about what we will never wear again and do not need.  If you think you might offend them by giving them your used clothing, ask the Lord for wisdom.  He promises to give us wisdom if we only will ask Him for it (James 1:5).  One way of doing this might be to let her feel like she is doing you a favor in helping you clean out your closet and thus sharing in the abundance that God has given you.

On the flip side there may be someone you know that you think has way too much money and wastes it selfishly.  I have heard women say catty remarks like “I wish I could afford an entire new outfit”.  Or “she must spend a fortune on her house.  Have you seen how nice it looks?”  Isn’t that judging?  I can remember when we were trying to get the camp started.  My husband and I would travel to different churches to tell them about the vision that God had given us for building a Christian camp.  We lived for 10 years on nothing but faith that God would provide for our needs.  Neither one of us worked a job with a steady income.  Yet I would hear remarks and see looks that made it clear that some women and even men thought we surely didn’t need money because we dressed well or had some nice things in our home.  Because of snide comments, whenever anyone gave me a compliment I would make sure that they knew how the Lord had provided for us.  So many things were given to us or we found amazing deals and had money just at the right time.  I could fill a book with the way that God provided for us during those ten years and we were never in debt!  What is sad is that so few Christians understood without me having to justify everything that we owned.

So the next time you are tempted to be jealous or make a critical remark about what someone else has or wears why not turn it to an opportunity to praise God.  After all, we are to “rejoice with them who do rejoice.”  If God has truly blessed them, thank Him for it.  If they have made unwise purchases, it is not your problem.  They have to answer to God.  Let our Heavenly Father be the judge.  He can take care of any wrongs much better then you can.

We should also be concentrating on being an example of a joyful Christian when we are out in public.  There is nothing sadder then a “Christian” who leaves a tract with a salesperson or waitress after they have treated them shamefully.  As women who claim to follow Christ our actions and reactions should be above reproach.  When we are driving somewhere we should be the thoughtful, polite driver that gives others space and lets someone go first.  Of course, that means that we have to leave home in plenty of time so that we don’t have to drive like our car has a jet engine in order to make it to our destination on time. 🙂

A Godly woman will be the person at the store that will offer to let the person with only 2 items go in front of her.  She will take the time to return her shopping cart to the stall instead of leaving it in the parking space.  In the restroom this woman will wipe up the counter when she is done. Our goal when in public is to leave the store, restaurant, restroom, etc. better then we found it.  Besides the facilities, we should be conscious of others and their need to be encouraged.  That means that we have to be brave and look for opportunities to encourage, say something positive, or give a compliment.  I love to find ways to make people smile when I am out shopping.  It is amazing how often a kind word and a smile can change someone’s countenance.  You never know the difference that you might make.

The conclusion of all this is found in Romans 15:1-2 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.  How do we do this?  By allowing God to work through us and teach us to love others as He loves them.  If we are truly trying to lift others up and unselfishly help them improve then we will not have time for judging their motives or actions.  When we give our thoughts over to the Lord and let his Holy Spirit fill us we will be more inclined to be merciful to others as we want them to be toward us.

Lastly, we will be willing to wait on the Lord to reveal the truth in a situation instead of spreading opinions and gossip.  We are always encouraged to take care of our bodies by getting regular exercise.  Jumping to conclusions should NOT be one of those exercises.

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