The Dangers and Cure for Making Assumptions
by Harold and Bette Gillogly
Assumptions will kill your relationships! Assumptions like, “She just said that to hurt me.” “He did that because he doesn’t care what I think.” “We can’t talk about it because she (he) will just get mad and we’ll end up in a fight. So why bother?”
It’s not just that we make assumptions, but what’s even worse is that we act upon our assumptions, not knowing if they are right or wrong. And not really caring enough to find out like a reasonable person should do. Afterall, don’t people deserve the benefit of the doubt? Must our assumptions assume the worst of them?
One man’s assuming the worst of another led to the death of 40,700 people in one day. It happened in 2 Samuel 10:1-19. Sometime after David finally became King of Israel, a neighboring king who had been loyal and kind to David, died, and his son Hanun became the new ruler. So David, trying to show kindness to his friend’s son, sent ambassadors to express sympathy to Hanun. When they arrived, Hanun’s army commanders advised Hanun not to trust David’s motives, but instead to assume these ambassadors were sent to spy out their city so they could come and conquer it. So, even though his father and King David had been friends, Hanun took his commanders’ advice and assumed the worst. Then he acted upon his wrong assumptions, and showed complete disrespect to David’s ambassadors by shaving off half their beards and cutting off their robes. This may not seem like much to you, but in their culture, this was more dishonoring than killing them would have been. These men felt such deep shame, that instead of going home to their families, they stayed in Jericho until their beards grew back out.
Two battles resulted from Hanun’s stupidity. The first one was really no battle at all, for the mercenaries King Hanun hired from neighboring countries ran away before the battle even started. But the second battle was bloody and many died. King Hanun had regrouped with many more mercenaries fighting with him and his people. But King David led Israel’s offensive this time and thoroughly defeated Hanun’s army, killing 40,700 soldiers in one day.
Imagine, 40,700 people lost their lives that day because one man – King Hanun – assumed the worst and refused to give his father’s friend the benefit of the doubt. And then, even after seeing what a dumb thing he did, he doubled down, refused to apologize, and started an all-out war with that friend. Tell us, what do you call that man? Proud? Foolish? Stubborn? Stupid? Self-absorbed? He was all those things. And other people paid a very high cost!
Are you ever like Hanun? Do you ever assume your husband’s or wife’s motives and react to them according your assumptions? Thinking the worst of them instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt? If you want to kill your relationship, you are certainly going about it the right way. Is making assumptions a regular thing with you? A habit? Then, dear friend, you have got to do something to stop that pattern in your life, or you will end up alone and miserable!
Good News! God offers you a way out of the habit of making assumptions! He says through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8: And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (NLT)
Letting your mind run amuck and start assuming the worst is the very opposite of “Fixing your thoughts.” Fixing your thoughts means purposely setting them on –
- What is True. What is factual about the situation. Not what you assume is true or assume about the person, but what really is TRUE about the facts. Ask questions. Find out.
- Honorable. Honest. Respected because of their good character. Give people of good character (even your spouse) the benefit of the doubt.
- Right. Things that line up with God’s standard. Is your spouse trying to live their life according to God’s word? Then assume the best of them.
- Pure. Not contaminated. Is your spouse trying to let God uproot sin and selfishness out of their life? Then trust them until they prove you wrong.
- Lovely. Pleasing, agreeable. Is your spouse trying to be agreeable about whatever you are discussing? Then you can determine to be agreeable too.
- Admirable. Pleasing to God. We bet you already know what response is pleasing to God. The question is, will you choose to give it?
- Excellent. Virtuous. Morally excellent. So your response to your spouse cannot be like what you learned from some silly sitcom where families don’t treat each other with respect. It should be how God Himself tells us to treat each other. (Read Philippians 2:1-4 and see for yourself.)
- Worthy of Praise. Whatsoever is praise-worthy. Stop focusing on what your spouse does wrong. Start focusing on what they do right. And commend them for that, instead of nagging and criticizing.
Along with fixing your thoughts on these good things about your spouse (and friends and family), take a lesson from Hanun. Don’t be so proud that you can’t repent, apologize and make amends. Doubling down got him deeper and deeper into trouble. How did that work out for him?
You also don’t want to vent to your friends and like mercenaries, get them on your side against your spouse. None of us has the right to use our friends or family members like that!
Finally, ask God to change your heart…to make you a new creation who chooses to be obedient to God and His word. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is TRUTH, dear friends. God really will make you a new creature. Old ways of your thoughts handling you instead of you handling them will pass away. All things will be new….If you want to be. Our prayer for you is that you will start putting Philippians 4:8 into practice. And practice. And practice.