Daily Devotional September 30, 2022

 “Don’t jump to conclusions – there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw”
(Proverbs 25:8, The Message).

     Not everything is as it seems. Unfortunately, this saying holds true for movie buffs. I am a big fan of the 1939 iconic film, The Wizard of Oz. I like the fact the Wicked Witch gets justice in the end. I am encouraged that Dorothy and Toto live happily ever after.
     But not everything is as it seems. The movie originally was intended as an artistic critique of the disparity between the wealthy and the poor during the Gilded Age. However, while the film condemned the inequalities that existed in America, Toto was paid more than any individual Munchkin. Half of every paycheck given to the cast of Munchkins was taken from them. Not everything is as it seems.

     The author of Proverbs 25:8 warns each of us not to jump to conclusions. Even though the prevailing wisdom is that if something looks like a duck, the fowl in question actually may be a decoy. For example, I was waiting for my wife to finish grocery shopping. I saw a young man reach into the purse of an older woman as she was looking away. I immediately concluded that he was stealing her wallet. To my surprise, the young man turned out to be the woman’s grandson. And he didn’t take his grandmother’s wallet. Instead, he borrowed her keys to pull her vehicle up to the store and offload the groceries.
     Psychologists claim the reason so many of us jump to conclusions is our brains are wired to rely on mental shortcuts. Especially in moments when we feel pressured to make quick decisions, we are more likely to reach the wrong interpretation of the situation. Our cognitive biases then can take over and lead us to false presumptions.

     A woman wincing from painful shoes can prompt us to conclude she is angry. A frightened child who cries for the safety of her mother’s arms in the checkout line may be mistaken for a spoiled brat. A slow-moving driver searching for an address in a remote neighborhood may be misconstrued as a potential burglar.

     Not everything is as it seems, which makes it all the more important to pump the brakes before stopping at a conclusion. Who knows? Your thoughtful and protracted consideration just may prevent you from crashing into others on the yellow brick road.