Years ago, just before an annual meeting at a local church where I was serving, a woman went to the pastor quite distraught over an article I had written in the local newspaper on some municipal issue that she didn’t think was appropriate for someone on church staff.
The pastor let her rant for awhile, and then said, “Well, say what you will, but I know his heart.”
While I appreciated his coming to my defense, I also have tried to adopt a similar attitude toward others. I need to either (a) admit I don’t know people fully, and certainly not as God does; or (b) try to get to them better, not just superficially, but get to know their heart.
So as soon as I saw this at Barry Simmons’ blog yesterday, I knew I had to share it with you.
Danger of Assuming Knowledge of Someone’s Heart
Jesus said “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). However, contrary to secular society’s assumption, he was not saying that moral evaluations are off limits. In the same Sermon on the Mount he talked about knowing someone by the fruit of their lives. What I believe He was saying is that we must be careful to apply to ourselves the same standards we apply to others, and with the same severity. We should give others the same level of mercy and understanding that we want for ourselves.
He was also saying that we should not be quick to presume we know someone’s’ heart or the facts of their situation. Here’s a thought provoking list from Kevin DeYoung of things not to assume (prejudge):
Don’t assume you know all the facts after hearing one side of the story.
Don’t assume the person is guilty just because strong charges are made against him.
Don’t assume you understand a blogger’s heart after reading one post.
Don’t assume that famous author, preacher, athlete, politician, or local celebrity won’t read what you write and don’t assume they won’t care what you say.
Don’t assume the divorced person is to blame for the divorce.
Don’t assume the single mom isn’t following Jesus.
Don’t assume the guy from the mission is less of a man or less of a Christian.
Don’t assume the pastor looking for work is a bad pastor.
Don’t assume the church that struggles or fails is a bad church.
Don’t assume you’d be a better mom.
Don’t assume bad kids are the result of bad parents.
Don’t assume your parents are clueless.
Don’t assume everyone should drop everything to attend to your needs, and don’t assume no one will.
Don’t assume the rich are ungenerous.
Don’t assume the poor are lazy.
Don’t assume you know what they’re all like after meeting one or two of their kind.
Don’t assume you should read between the lines.
Don’t assume you have interpreted the emotions of the email correctly.
Don’t assume everyone has forgotten about you.
Don’t assume they meant to leave you off the list.
Don’t assume everyone else has a charmed life.
Don’t assume a bad day makes her a bad friend.
Don’t assume the repentance isn’t genuine.
Don’t assume the forgiveness isn’t sincere.
Don’t assume God can’t change you.
Don’t assume God can’t love you.
Don’t assume God can’t love them.