What Were You Thinking?
"Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven't his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?" 1 Chronicles 19:3b (NIV)
A sepia tint covers the photograph of her sunscreen-lathered face at the beach. This same coloring alters the picture he took of the dinner he made last night, and discolors their new puppy in the snapshot of him snoozing at the foot of the bed.
Everywhere I look—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr—photographs are edited with a yellowish-brown filter to create a vintage look. I appreciate the artistry of it, but what happened to the bright vivid colors? Why does faded yellow get to layer itself over the clear blue eyes of a sweet child, making her appear like someone she's not? Or discolor the true pinks and oranges of a fabulous sunset, giving it a different appearance than it truly has?
I've used the sepia filter when editing photographs. But I'm ready to see things as they really are. Not just with photographs, but in real life.
For far too long I've colored things based on my fancies, moods or ideas, just like the men in 1 Chronicles 19 did. You see, King David, being kind, sent out a group of his men to console another king whose father had just died. But when the king's men saw David's group approaching, they assumed the worst.
In verse 3 we get a snapshot of their conversation with their king: "Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven't his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?" (1 Chronicles 19:3b NIV).
Their suspicion and assumptions about David's intentions led them to treat David's men poorly, which started a war between the two countries ... all because these soldiers colored David in an unfair and incorrect light.
If I'm honest, I can do this quite easily myself.
When my husband says he prefers broccoli to carrots, I've read between the lines and inferred he means I can't cook yummy carrots. I'm no Julia Child, so this perceived jab adds to my insecurity. My assumptions lead my emotions, and before I know it, I've cooked up an internal battle between fact and fiction. Rather than suspecting my husband's words contain a hidden meaning, I'm learning to take them at face value.
It can happen beyond our home too. When we hear of a friend's party—that we aren't invited to—it can be easy to conclude they don't really like us. We pull away from our friend, causing a rift. It may be tempting to talk about the suspected snub with other friends who weren't invited either, causing more division. But the truth is, an intimate dinner party is just that, intimate: small and reserved for a few. Instead of coloring the lack of an invitation with malicious intent, it'd be best to step back and see the bigger picture of a smaller gathering.
Layering life with thoughts that discolor other's true intentions is easy to do.
But only God knows what a person is thinking. If we want to know, we have to ask for clarity and set aside the thoughts our imaginations conjure up (2 Corinthians 10:5). Instead of being easily offended, we can overlook another's actions and offer a way to create harmony (Proverbs 19:11).
Negative assumptions almost always lead to war: either with others, or within ourselves. Let's commit to believing the best, before assuming the worst. And see through a different filter: the truth of God's Word. That's true blue (not yellow!).
Dear Lord, please help me not infer more than what is said. And if I have questions, please give me the words to ask for clarity. So in all things, You will be lifted high. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Do you readily jump to conclusions without substantiation?
What will happen in your heart and relationships when you choose to believe the best and take others at their word? Is there anything you need to ask for clarification on from a friend or family member?
2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)
Proverbs 19:11, "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense." (ESV)