Did You Realize? by Gary Ellis

Did I realize?  Did I realize what?

Did you realize that jumping to conclusions is most often based on suspicious illusions.

Your reputation is one of the most valuable and precious commodities you carry around with you. It either values you or devalues you.  It’s worth protecting; both in yourself and in others.

My wife, kids, and myself lived in Mexico for four years.  In that country the presumption of guilt over innocence prevails.  It’s in the very “spirit of the air.”  Being presumed guilty until you are proven innocent is a very uncomfortable emotional climate to live in…especially if you grew up in a system of society where you are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

To navigate daily life in that atmosphere was very unnerving for ourselves and our kids.  Not because we were closet crooks.  Not because we had anything to feel guilty about.  But….life happens.  You can be in the wrong place and the wrong time.  From no fault of your own, you can find yourself behind bars.  Guilty until proven innocent.  Case in point.  A pastor we knew had someone sue him.  He was immediately taken to jail and was behind bars for a week until the charge was cleared up and his innocence was proven.

Innocent until proven guilty is a wonderful fruit of freedom for citizens of the United States of America.  However, within our borders, a different law of the flesh often prevails in many of our churches.  People jumping to conclusions.  Brothers and sisters of the faith suspecting each other without proof.  Jumping to rumored suspicions without clear and present evidence.

Someone once said to me, “Well, I’m not going to judge them, but I’m going to keep my eye on them.”  My response would be, “Are you keeping your eye on them with a heart to find them innocent, or to prove your suspicions of guilt?”  If that’s the case, the “watcher” will always find the guilt whether it’s there or not.

I do not believe in the proverbial “sweeping dirt under the carpet.”  I do not feel that we should turn a blind eye to clear provable suspicious behavior.  I don’t cater to “let’s just play nice” knee jerk philosophies.

However, it’s been my own experience (with myself),  and my experience with many others, that the strong tendency – when jumping to conclusions – is based on speculation and flimsy evidence; And, ninety-nine percent of the time it’s a negative suspicion that devalues the person rather than supports their value.  Add to that…

…passing those suspicions on to others (for “concerned prayer,” of course) becomes a kind of slander that God doesn’t wink at.  Besides the fact that I’ve never experienced abiding in the land of peace and joy when my heart is in the field of negative speculation.

I’ve been writing about this kind of topic a lot lately. Not because I know of something very specific that is going on.  But, as my own heart and mind have been pursing the Presence of Jesus, I’ve become a lot more sensitive to “honoring my neighbor.”  You see, I am instructed by God to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind – and – my neighbor as myself.  It’s not because God is a love and attention hungry egotist.  It’s because loving Him is singling my focus on Him.  And whatever you focus on, you become like.

My experience:  More and more…I love….I mean really love…people.  I want to support them as innocent until they are proven guilty.