"And Hannah was in distress of soul, praying to the Lord and weeping bitterly…so Eli thought she was drunk."
I Samuel 1: 10, 13, Amplified Bible
"Jumping To Conclusions"
"Most of us are umpires at heart; we like to call balls and strikes on somebody else."
Can I think of an incident in my life when I "jumped to a conclusion" about someone else and their behavior only to find out later my initial assessment was completely off-base?
"We evaluate others with a godlike justice, but we want them to evaluate us with a godlike compassion."
Sydney J. Harris
"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
Several months ago, I awoke in the morning and could hardly see anything. Quickly, I jumped out of bed and took a look at my eyes. To my complete surprise, both eyes were nearly swollen shut. After a visit to the doctor, I was informed I had gotten something in and around my eyes that I was allergic to, and this was the culprit which caused all the swelling and drainage from my eyes. My doctor prescribed a medication that was quite thick which I had to drop into my eyes 3 times a day and he gave me a salve that I applied around my eyes. While these treatments were effective in relieving my symptoms, for several days my vision was impaired. I couldn't make things out clearly and what I once could see with clarity became fuzzy and blurred.
Sometimes the judgments we make in life succumb to the same plight as my cloudy vision did. Because of conditions in our lives - biases, narrow-mindedness, intolerance as well as pre-conceived ideas - we find ourselves with blurred vision caused by the veil of prejudices that cover our eyes and hearts. And when this happens, when we find ourselves in unfamiliar situations or with unknown individuals, we decide to exercise by "jumping to conclusions."
I don't like to admit that I've fallen into this trap, but I'd be lying if I didn't honestly admit that way too often, with blinders covering my eyes as well as my heart, I've let pre-determined opinions mislead me, even delude my thinking. I'll look at a situation and come to some snap judgment without getting the facts. Or what's even worse, I'll render an opinion regarding another's behavior, without taking time to comprehend or understand why this behavior is occurring.
In our text today, we find that "jumping to conclusions" was an exercise in cruelty for Eli, and the same can be said for you and me when we judge another unkindly.
We're told in I Samuel 1: 3, that Elkanah and his family went "yearly to worship and to sacrifice in Shiloh." Obviously, Eli must have recognized this family for they were regular worshippers. But during this particular visit, it seems Eli "jumped to the conclusion" that Hannah had "lost it," for the Bible says he, "thought she was drunk." Now I thought a lot about this statement. Why would Eli think Hannah was drunk? There's absolutely no Biblical record of this mother wandering around drunk before. And frankly, it would be rather bizarre behavior for a woman in any case.
But then I decided to read more about the time that this story took place. It was at the end of the rule of the Judges when everybody was "doing their own thing." It was during a time when the priests, Hophni and Phinehas were worthless and didn't know or respect God. It was a time when the Levite's concubine was raped by Israelite men and left for dead at the doorpost. It was a time when the Nazarite, Samson, drank of the vine and tasted of the lips of harlots. It was a time of wayward debauchery, where sensual pleasure and moral decline were the "norm" of the day.
And here's Eli, with two boys who have brought him heartache and shame, and a nation of God's people who were doing "what was right in their own eyes," and I can just imagine him looking at the despairing, weeping Hannah, who was so grief stricken with the pain in her heart, and before Eli took time to listen and learn, he jumped to the conclusion she was just another drunk. What a conclusion to come to, before the reality of the situation was even known.
But before we "jump" all over Eli, we'd better review in our own lives and relationships how easy it is to let our biases set the agenda for our responses to those we interact with each day.
As we will learn, Eli's conclusion about Hannah actually said more about his own life than hers. George Swinnock observed that "A desire to disgrace others never sprang from grace." Before you and I "jump to conclusions" and judge with blurred vision the lives of those around us, we need to pray that our Father's healing salve will wash away the film of bias and prejudice that hides the beauty of a heart that is only longing for our love. In the words of Joy Cowley, "Without the blindness of judgment, the eyes see only beauty and when the eyes see only beauty, the heart knows only love."
"O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of…lust for power and idle talk. Give, rather, the spirit of humility, and love to Your servant. Yes, my Lord and King, grant that I may see my own errors and not judge my brothers and sisters."
Ephraem the Syrian
"My Judgmental Attitudes"
"It was no five minute miracle,
these things take time, You said,
and You sat beside me,
at the end of the road,
Your hands on my eyes,
slowly and gently removing
my judgmental attitudes.
I admit I felt vulnerable.
There's comfort in shadows.
The world of light was so vast
that if You hadn't been there,
I might have changed my mind,
but Your touch spoke to my eyes
and there was no going back.
As You healed my blindness,
You asked me what I could see
but I didn't have words
to describe the loveliness,
emerging from the light
or what that loveliness
was doing to my heart.
It was beauty, You said.
Without the blindness of judgment,
the eyes see only beauty,
the heart knows only love.
The heart that knows only love,
You said, is in the presence of God.
I told You I couldn't see as well
as that, and You reminded
me again that miracles take time."
Psalms for the Road
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $10.00.
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