Did you ever work any of those dot-to-dot pages when you were a child? You move your pencil from one dot to another and by the time you’re finished-viola!-a picture appears. Unless of course, you misconnect the dots. Then a misshapen figure emerges with little semblance to the real thing. I think that happens a lot in relationships. We assume from others’ behavior, or lack thereof, what they are thinking or feeling. Then we react according to our assumption and before we know it, anything from a funny anecdote to an unnecessary separation takes place.
So how do we manage assumptions?
I like what the Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh did when the rest of Israel made a near fatal assumption about them. These tribes had returned to their land on the east side of the Jordan. There they built an altar that would stand as a witness to future generations that although they lived on the other side of the river, they remained a part of the nation. The other tribes mistakenly thought they were building an altar on which to worship the Lord. This would have violated their covenant with God because the only altar sanctioned for worship was at the Tabernacle.
Israel’s assumption caused them to gather and prepare for war against their brothers. They were ready to wipe them out.
Incredibly, before the two and a half tribes even declared their innocence, they cried, “The Mighty One, God the Lord! The Mighty One, God, the Lord! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the Lord do not spare us this day. If we have built our own altar to turn away from the Lord…may the Lord himself call us to account.”
They sought God first and made themselves completely dependent upon him. What followed was communication, understanding, and restored fellowship.
There’s a lesson here for us. How many assumptions do we make about others, especially in the Body of Christ? We get bits and pieces of information and conclude something we shouldn’t. We don’t have the full picture.
So the next time you feel like rushing to judgment concerning someone’s conduct, or when you become the brunt of another’s misperception of you, think about that altar of witness, cry out to the Mighty One. Let him be the one to connect the dots.