Couples Devotional: Jumping to Conclusions

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other… Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. –1 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)

What is it that causes couples to jump to wrong conclusions? Sometimes we are too quick to blame our spouse when we don’t have all the information. Or we misunderstand what is trying to be communicated and react badly. Cathy and I know all about this. We are experts at jumping to the wrong conclusion. Here is a common Jim-phrase: “In my humble opinion…” Here is a common Cathy-phrase: “In his humble opinion, he thinks he’s always right…” Today’s scripture reading from First Peter shows us how to treat one another and why it’s not good to jump to conclusions.

Some time ago, our pastor told a story in church that was based on a poem by Valerie Cox. It all started when a woman bought a bag of cookies and sat down with a book to wait to board her flight. Not much later, she noticed an older gentleman sitting next to her grab a cookie from the bag between them. Not wanting to make a scene, she shifted the bag closer to her. A few moments went by, and she heard some rustling, and sure enough he’d taken another cookie, smiled, and put it in his mouth. For every cookie she ate, he grabbed another, until the very last cookie, which he broke, offering half to her. The woman was furious. Who did he think he was? She gathered her things and boarded the plane. Once in her seat, she opened her purse and found… her unopened bag of cookies.

Has something like this ever happened to you? Have you ever made a wrong assumption? Of course you have. Haven’t we all? And frankly, on most occasions we would do better to be slow to judge. The emphasis is on the word slow. The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Just think how much better our relationships would be if we put this verse into practice. And then there are the wise words of Jesus: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1), and “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s [spouse’s] eye” (Luke 6:42 NLT). And hey, even if your first impression was correct and you ended up losing a half a bag of cookies, remember, it really isn’t all that important anyway.

• Can you remember a time when you jumped to a wrong conclusion about me? How did you handle the situation? How would you handle it today?

• What can we do to be less judgmental of each other?

• After rereading today’s Scripture (1 Peter 3:8-9), what are some ways we can be a blessing to each other?

Make or buy a card for each other this week and write out an apology for a time when you jumped to the wrong conclusion. Then add a note filled with blessing and love. Read the cards to each other.

(Excerpted from Closer: 52 Devotionals to Draw Couples Together by Jim and Cathy Burns; Bethany House, 2009.)

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Jim and Cathy Burns

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Some of his recent books include: Finding Joy in the Empty Nest; Doing Life with Your Adult Children, and Have Serious Fun. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California. Cathy Burns is the co-author of Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together. Along with being a mom, wife and Bible study leader, she recently retired from her job as a teacher in a school for “kids who learn differently” in order to help care for her three grandchildren. Cathy and Jim met the first day in college and married one week after she graduated.

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