Have you ever made the wrong assumption about something? If we’re honest, we all have. There was a guy who wanted me to hire him for sales, but he didn’t dress the part for the interview. Everyone else showed up in a suit, but this guy wasn’t even wearing a tie. When I asked questions, everyone sat up, looked me in the eye and gave confident answers. Not this guy. He slouched in his chair and barely looked up at me when answering. He seemed to lack the confidence to be in sales, but he had all the answers I was looking for. My wife suggested it was easier to train him how to present himself rather than to teach someone else the core values I was looking for. I hired him, and he was one of the best hires I ever made.
It’s easy to look at someone and make judgments about them because they don’t measure up to our expectations. That’s what happened to Jesus. He was born in the right town, but the people expected great fanfare for the Messiah. He became a great teacher, but He didn’t teach what they thought He should teach. They assumed He would fight the Romans and free Israel, but when that clearly wasn’t His plan, they assumed He wasn’t the Messiah and crucified Him. They thought they had God’s plan figured out, but their assumptions were wrong. They’re not alone.
We all make incorrect assumptions about who God is and what His plan is. One of the biggest misconceptions is that God is angry and is waiting for us to do something wrong so He can zap us. John 3:16-17 says, “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!” (TPT) God didn’t send Jesus to condemn you to Hell. He was sent to reconcile you to God. He loves us so much that He didn’t conform to our expectations, but instead died in our place so that we could live eternally in His place. If you’ve made the wrong assumptions about God, Christmas is a great time, to change your mind.
Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash
There’s an exercise I do with people to show how our minds jump to conclusions and we assume. We observe a conversation where a lot of things are left open, and then I ask them questions about it. The group doesn’t know that I’m exposing how their brain works. As I ask the questions, they typically make assumptions. I keep asking questions to get as much detail from them as I can to see how much they’ve made up.
I keep asking questions until someone inevitably says, “I don’t know.” I then go back to what was said and ask, “So what do we really know?” I sometimes have to go through it several times before they get it. Most of the answers they give are based on their assumptions and not on what they know. I then like to ask, “How much of your life is based on what you’re assuming versus what you know?” It’s a heavy question that I usually leave several seconds of silence after while they think.
Job was a righteous man in the Bible. He honored God in all he did and even fell down to worship God when he lost his kids and his wealth. As time went on and he was struck with boils, his friends began to question his integrity. In their conversations back and forth, it’s clear that they make many assumptions about his predicament and how God is doing it to Him. They don’t know that Satan is behind the whole thing and is the one tormenting Job.
In Job 19:25, Job makes a great statement. He says, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives” (NLT). We may not know why we go through certain things or why things happen, but we can know that our redeemer lives. We can live with assurance that He is in control and our lives are in His hands. We need to stop our assumptions that God is behind everything bad that happens in our lives. We know that it’s the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It’s God who brings life. So they next time things happen, don’t make decisions based on assumptions. Go with what you know.
Have you ever thought you knew what someone else wanted, but it turned out you didn’t? Maybe they complimented something once, so we assume they always want that one thing. Or it could be that they told us they liked it, but we never checked back to see if their taste changed. Whatever the case, even though assumptions usually get us in trouble, we still operate on them more often than we should.
Not only do we assume what people want, we also assume what God wants. We often forget that God looks at our heart more than our actions. We treat Christianity as if there are boxes we have to check off to make God happy so He will bless us and hopefully let us go to Heaven. Go to church often: check. Give some money in the offering plate when it passes: check. Do something good for someone else every now and then: check. What if I told you that’s not what God wants?
In Hosea 6, the people assumed they knew what God wanted. They had sinned and thought, “Hey, all God wants are some sacrifices and He’ll come rescue us.” While that was God’s promise to them, they had forgotten what moves God isn’t our outward act, but our inward posture. God’s response to them in verse 6 was, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings” (NLT). They had assumed what God wanted and were wrong.
I think what God said to them is what God wants to say to us today. He would rather we love Him than to check a bunch of religious boxes. He would rather we get to know Him on an intimate level than to do things in His name for our own glory. When you love someone, you put their needs above your own. That’s what God is looking for from you and me today. He’s looking for a selfless love from us that gets to know Him so we don’t have to assume what He wants. It starts with us putting away our religious list and spending time in His presence.