Have you ever jumped to a conclusion? I mean, have you ever thought you completely understood a situation, made an assessment that caused you to get hot around the collar … and then found out that your assessment was wrong?
We all have!
Everyone of us has been guilty of jumping to conclusions (or as a former pastor friend and mentor [Wallace York] used to say – “Jumping to a concussion”). Instead of gathering as much information as possible, we recklessly gather only a few of the facts and then assume that we have enough information to make a definitive decision. Then, we justify our anger and condemnation. Oftentimes, we are wrong and must humbly apologize.
In my Bible reading this morning, I came across a story where “Jumping to Conclusions” is beautifully illustrated. It is found in Joshua 22. Here’s what happened:
After the Promised Land had been conquered, the leader Joshua released the Israelite tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He told them that they had been faithful in carrying out their end of the bargain by helping the other tribes conquer the land. They were free to go back to their home on the east side of the Jordan River.
On their way back, though, they “stopped to build a large and imposing altar” (Joshua 22:10). Why did they do this? Listen to their explanation. We have no reason to doubt the veracity of their words…
Joshua 22:26-27 (New Living Translation)
“So we decided to build the altar, not for burnt offerings or sacrifices, but as a memorial. It will remind our descendants and your descendants that we, too, have the right to worship the lord at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices, and peace offerings. Then your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no claim to the lord.'”
So, their motives were pure and there was nothing essentially wrong with what they did. But, before their intentions were explained, someone jumped to a conclusion! They were almost killed for their actions!
Joshua 22:11-12 (New Living Translation)
“The rest of Israel heard that the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar at Geliloth at the edge of the land of Canaan, on the west side of the Jordan River. So the whole community of Israel gathered at Shiloh and prepared to go to war against them.”
Why was the rest of Israel willing to go to war again the 2 1/2 tribes who had built their altar? We see later in the chapter that they misjudged the motives of those who had built it. They assumed that it was an alternate place of worship. That being the case, there was fear that God would bring judgment upon them all for this act (Joshua 22:15-20).
But, fortunately(!), reason prevailed and they talked before taking action (Joshua 22:15-31). They went away peaceably. No one got hurt and the bond of their relationship remained strong.
So, what about you? Do you find it easy to jump to conclusions? When you make an assumption regarding someone’s intentions or actions that you believe to be wrong or sinful, do you go to them and talk it out or do you hold onto your critical attitude?
As we saw in this story, there’s a good chance that you could be completely wrong in your assessment.
Don’t jump to a concussion! Patiently gather facts. Love others enough to talk things out. Satan would love to divide God’s people. Don’t let him do it.