Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Have you ever been talking to someone and as you talk, you notice they keep looking at their watch? It can be annoying, can’t it? Why? Because we presume they are getting bored with us or they’re thinking of something else. But who says? It could well be they are waiting for a phone call or have another place to go, and their time is limited.
Very often we jump to conclusions—the wrong ones at that! Jumping to conclusions means we take a guess about a situation without having enough information, or to judge a situation without all the facts. I guess we all have been guilty of doing this at same stage—how often have you been guilty of rushing into things without thinking?
The Photographer and the Pilot
I like the story from the US when a forest fire was raging out of control on the west coast. A photographer for a national news magazine was given the assignment of going out to the forest fire and getting some pictures. When he arrived at the scene he found that the firefighters had blocked off the roads and he couldn’t get anywhere near the fire to take pictures. So he calls his editor and says that to get pictures he probably needs to rent an airplane and have somebody fly him over the fire and he could get a lot better pictures that way.
His editor happened to have a friend that had an airplane at a nearby airport. So the editor says, Go to such and such airport and I will call my friend and he will be there waiting for you with his airplane and he will take you up over the fire and you can get some great pictures. So this photographer jumped in his car. He runs to the airport as quickly as he can. He gets there and on the runway ready to take off is an airplane sitting there taxiing out to the runway ready to go. The photographer grabs his camera, runs out to the ‘plane, jumps right in and says, Let’s go, let’s go.
They take off down the runway and they start flying over the fire. The photographer turns to the pilot and says, Okay, approach the fire from the North and fly real low so I can get some pictures. The pilot says, Why in the world do you want to take pictures of the fire? He says, Well I’m a photographer. That’s what I do for a living. I need to get pictures; it’s my job. The pilot after a very awkward pause says, You mean—you’re not the instructor?
Some big assumptions were being made in this story. The pilot assumed his friend was the instructor taking him to teach him to fly, and the photographer assumed this was the plane waiting for him.
Rash Negative Conclusions
Jumping to conclusions can lead to problems—we can very easily hurt the feelings of others. The Bible says:
Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by
- “Take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19 – NIV)
- “It makes a lot of sense to be a person of few words and to stay calm.” (Proverbs 17:27 – CEV)
- “Fools have no desire to learn; they would much rather give their own opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2 – CEV)
A newspaper article told of a man who was walking toward an open New York subway car when he felt somebody brush by him. Instinctively, he reached for his pocket and discovered he didn’t have his wallet. Shouting and running, he grabbed the person who had bumped against him. He tugged wildly at the stranger’s sleeve, trying to stop him from escaping into the departing subway. The subway door slammed shut, but not before he had ripped off the suspected pickpocket’s coat sleeve.
Later that night at home the man discovered his ‘stolen’ wallet had been on his dressing table all day. He had left home without it. Let’s resist the temptation to jump to conclusions and not make snap judgements about others—it’s so easy to be ill-informed, half-informed, part-informed or misinformed. It was Mother Teresa who once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them”.
Somehow it’s easier to jump to negative conclusions about people than it is to assume the best about them. When we do this, we ascribe to them bad intentions and evil purposes that may not be true. We also reveal something about ourselves, for the faults we see in others are actually a reflection of our own. A poem says:
Don’t be too harsh with the person who sins,
Nor pelt him with words or stones,
Unless you’re sure—yes doubly sure,
That you have no sins of your own.
1 Peter 3:8-9 says: “…all of you should agree and have concern and love for each other. You should also be kind and humble. Don’t be hateful and insult people just because they are hateful and insult you. Instead, treat everyone with kindness…”
Years ago, Bishop Potter was sailing for Europe on one of the great transatlantic ocean liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger had been asked to share the cabin with him. After going to see the accommodations, Bishop Potter came up to the purser’s desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship’s safe.
He explained that ordinarily he never availed himself of that privilege, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth. Judging from the man’s appearance, the Bishop was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy person. The purser quickly accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked: “It’s all right, Bishop. I’ll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has already been up here and left his valuables for the same reason!”
Lord, spare me from being too sensitive and touchy about myself, and make me more generous in my attitude toward others.