UNDERSTANDING BEFORE MAKING A JUDGMENT
Proverbs 18:13: “He that answered a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”
Far too often this proverb is confirmed in our daily interactions with other people. How often have we been swift to share our opinion on a matter before hearing all of the known facts that were available? People today scarcely will listen to another individual before they cut the person off from speaking and immediately share their thoughts. An opinion is often given before one even has enough information to voice their thoughts on the subject.
Sometimes we’re like the couple who were with some friends when the subject of marriage counseling came up. Mary said, “Oh, Tom and I will never need marriage counseling. We have a great relationship. He was a communications major in college and I majored in drama. He communicates really well and I just act like I’m listening.”
It appears this was the case with the friends of Job that were quick to condemn Job before hearing the facts. Elihu, on the other hand wisely restrained himself from giving his opinion until he had heard the matter.
Notice the wisdom in Job 32:10, 11: “Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion. Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.” He seemed to be wise enough to understand. Proverbs 18:13: “He that answered a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Christians must learn to carefully listen to and weigh the facts before making a reply.
There was an individual in the Bible that had employed a young man by the name of Joseph. Joseph was a godly man and Scripture states that “…his master saw that the LORD was with him…” (Genesis 39:3).
Potiphar heard an accusation against Joseph, which led him to rush to judgment and ultimately condemn an innocent man. Potiphar, heard the report of his wife, and immediately assumed that what was spoken to him was true. How often good people have been hurt by those rushing to judgment. Potiphar failed to gather the facts before jumping to a conclusion about Joseph.
A Teacher Began Her Story . . .
A cruise ship met with an accident at sea. On the ship was a couple with an infant. Making their way to the lifeboat, they realized that there was only space for just one of them left. The lifeboat was drifting away and it would be a miracle if either could jump into it. At that moment, the man pushed the woman aside, grabbed the baby and leaped onto the lifeboat himself. His wife stood on the sinking ship and shouted just one sentence to her husband.
The teacher stopped and asked, “What do you think she shouted?” Most of the students excitedly answered, “Why did you do that? I hate you!”
Now, the teacher noticed a boy who was silent throughout and called on him to answer. He replied, “Teacher, I believe she would have shouted, ‘Take care of our baby!'”
The teacher was surprised, asking “Have you heard this story before?” The boy shook his head, “Nope, but that was what my mom told my dad before she died from cancer.”
The teacher lamented, “Your answer is correct. The cruise ship sank. The man went home and brought up their daughter single-handedly.”
Many years later after the death of the man, their daughter found his diary while tidying his belongings. It turns out that when parents went onto the cruise ship, the mother was already dying from a terminal illness. At that critical moment, the father rushed to the only chance of survival for the sake of their child.
He wrote in his diary, “How I wished to sink to the bottom of the ocean with you, but for the sake of our daughter, I can only let you lie forever below the sea alone.”
The story was finished, the class was silent. The teacher reminded the children that we should never focus on the surface and judge others without understanding them first.
Proverbs 29:11: “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”
Ecclesiastes 5:2: “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”
Proverbs 15:28: “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.”
In closing this Bible study, it must be pointed out that even God, who is omniscient (all-knowing), gathers the facts as an example to us before making His determinations.
God examined Adam before pronouncing judgment upon him (Genesis 3:9-19). God came down to Babel before casting His sentence and confusing the languages,(Genesis 11:5). God even came down to before the destruction of Sodom, (Genesis 18:20,21).
I Samuel 2:3, “Let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
Deuteronomy 32:4, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”