French experimental biologist and philosopher Jean Rostand (1894-1977) once wrote, “Nothing leads the scientist so astray as a premature truth.”1 This is another way of saying, you never know if you are right by “Jumping to conclusions.” This results when someone judges or decides something without having all the facts. We have other ways of defining such individuals as being ill-advised, impetuous, immature, indiscreet, reckless, and so on. Neurologist Robert Burton stated, sometimes our brain will reward us with the thrill of finishing whenever we complete a pattern of thought by filling in the gaps with whatever else comes to our mind in order to reach a conclusion.
Many times we may feel forced to come to a quick decision because of the feelings that lie beneath our response. Emotions like anger go hand-in-hand with other experiences, like vulnerability, shame, guilt, and so on. When we can name those underlying feelings, we can better address them. And, when we become willing to accept the fact that sometimes we just don’t know the answer, that, then, can become our new certainty.
Another factor that leads to this opening our mouths before we put our brains in gear is caused by fear and panic. When this happens, most often it results in negative thinking. We think of the worst outcome. It is often a case of what psychologist’s call cognitive distortions. A more natural way to put it is that a person feels all mixed up. They can’t think of what to do at the moment, so they often incriminate others or blame themselves.
I like the way The Message Version renders one of Solomon’s proverbs. It reads: “Don’t jump to conclusions – there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw [or heard].”2 This same thinking was behind our Lord Jesus’ caution that we should not be quick to wrongly judge a situation, so that we will not be misjudged as rapidly. Don’t suddenly denounce something as wrong without thinking so we not be thought of as a person who can’t think straight.3 Remember you can give someone or something the benefit of the doubt before assuming that it is wrong. What you thought you saw or heard may not be factual once all the facts are known.
If you want to read a Bible story about a person who jumped to the wrong conclusion but found out later how wrong they were, just read the story in the Bible of the Syrian General Naaman. What he thought was an effort to embarrass him turned out to be the exact thing he needed for healing.4 There is no reason to live life thinking that everything and everyone is against you. Remember, the Scriptures tell us that if God is for us, who else in this world could be on your side, that’s any better God? – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Jean Rostand: Pensées d’un Biologiste (1939). Translated by Irma Brandeis, in The Substance of Man, Doubleday & Company, Garden City, 1962, p. 89
2 Proverbs 25:8
3 Luke 6:37
4 2 Kings 5:1-14