Presumption, perception, assumption. These are human traits which attempts to explain circumstances that are not easy to understand with rational thinking.
This was exactly what Jesus’ disciples did when they came across a blind man while they were passing through Jerusalem. (John 9:1-3) They initially rationalised that the man’s condition had to be as a result of sin. This can be deduced from the question they asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2)
Jesus’ response blew their assumptions out of the water. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Even Jesus Himself was at the receiving end of wrong assumptions by some of the Jewish leaders. He called them out on this by saying, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” (John 11:19)
I have personally been at the receiving end of being misunderstood and being wrongly judged. In some cases, it is easy to take it in stride and move on but in other cases, it can be quite difficult, especially when the people involved are close to us, people we would expect to know us better.
How then do we handle people who misjudge and hold wrong assumptions about us?
- Do not try to justify yourself - There were many times in scripture when the people demanded Jesus identify Himself or show a sign and He refused, focusing on a subject totally different from what He was asked. `
- Rely on the Holy Spirit - (Luke 12:11) He will teach you what to say.
- Speak with gentleness and respect - There are times when we must speak especially when we perceive that the misconception of the person speaking to us is as a result of not knowing in whom we have believed. For such people, use the opportunity to explain in clear terms, faith in the Lord Jesus and its benefits for whoever believes in Him.
- Avoid debates - We are warned in scripture to avoid controversies, unnecessary arguments and debates over things that have nothing to do with the core tenets of our faith.
We should remember that we live in a fallen world and unless God opens the eyes of the people around us, they just won’t be able to understand what drives us. All we can do is pray for them and love them as Jesus loved us.