“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
Presuming things. Making assumptions. Unfortunately, most of us are guilty of this. Some call it “jumping to conclusions,” which as many can testify can be a very painful exercise. Others call it “reaching a verdict without a trial.” This usually happens when we venture to guess another person’s motives or judge a person’s life without having all the facts. The danger of this is that we can be certain of our conclusion, only to then find we have missed the truth by the proverbial mile.
Assuming things causes us to “know” before actually having information. No wonder the Holy Spirit inspired Solomon to write that it is to one’s folly and shame if they give an answer before they hear (Proverbs 18:13). Those of us who have poor listening skills because we are focused on what we want to say rather than paying attention to the one speaking to us would do well to keep this verse in mind. It serves as a warning especially to those of us who have the habit of making faulty perceptions about our circumstances. The Bible teaches that we should be certain of a situation before ever uttering a word about it. Think of how foolish it is to pass judgment without a full hearing!
Presumptions also cause us to have boldness that is founded on nothing. It results in us having courage without any true foundation. God inspired the apostle Peter to refer to certain unrighteous people by saying that they are “presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries” (2 Peter 2:10). Not a day goes by in which we do not see this verse being played out in the world of political punditry which takes place on television, radio, social media, and face-to-face conversations. It has become popular to fearlessly and recklessly speak against others, especially those in positions of authority. Both sides of the political ideological aisle are guilty of this. Yet we do this not only against political figures, but also against each other. Most of the criticisms are based on personal opinions which are easily confused with the truth. So many of us rant and rave about the object of our fury, and our rants are based on preconceived notions which we refuse to clutter up with the actual truth. No wonder God inspired Peter to call those who make such presumptions “self-willed” or “arrogant” as some translations put it.
Furthermore, jumping to conclusions causes us to sin without restriction. This is why David prayed, “Also keep back your servant from presumptuous sins” (Psalm 19:13). David is speaking of this same arrogant spirit, using a word which is translated elsewhere as “proud.” He is also praying for discipline, self-control against willful sinning. That same self-control is one of the traits of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), evidence that one is walking by the Spirit and is truly a spiritual person (Galatians 5:16-25). It is also one of the traits God wants us to continually and diligently be adding to our faith (2 Peter 1:5-7). We need discipline to keep us from sinning willfully, and we need to avoid sinning willfully at all costs. Sinning willfully is one of the major reasons one ends up in hell. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27). Willfully entering into sin hardens the heart, and this includes saying something against somebody which we are certain we do not know with certainty is true.
It is so easy to convince ourselves that we know what drives people or what has landed them in their present circumstances. Job’s friends got into a lot of trouble because they judged Job with assumptions rather than facts (Job 42:7-9). Let’s learn from their error and not make the same mistake. Jesus commanded us, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Let’s heed His teaching!