Whenever I have a negative experience with an associate, co-worker or friend, my curious nature wants to know why. Did I do something wrong? Did I offend someone? Or does this individual simply not like me? These are the thoughts that go through my head daily. However, after reading the Bible today, I learned a valuable lesson on why you should avoid jumping to conclusion.
Now Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and he was laying them on the fire when a viper crawled out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the little animal hanging from his hand, they said to one another, Doubtless this man is a murderer, for though he has been saved from the sea, Justice [the goddess of avenging] has not permitted that he should live, Acts 28:3-4.
A first century ship in route to Rome ran aground off the coast of Malta. On a cold rainy winter day, 276 people abandoned ship, floating or swimming to shore. When natives of the island saw this event take place, a fire was started to bring warmth to wet and shivering bodies. The apostle Paul felt compelled to help out, gathering sticks when a baby viper snake attached itself to his arm. Gossip and murmurs began to spread around the campfire, perceiving Paul as a murderer was who escaped a ship wreck only to die on this island.
Then [Paul simply] shook off the small creature into the fire and suffered no evil effects. However, they were waiting, expecting him to swell up or suddenly drop dead; but when they had watched him a long time and saw nothing fatal or harmful come to him, they changed their minds and kept saying over and over that he was a god, Acts 28:5-6.
Aware of the deadly poison of vipers, the locals were waiting for Paul’s arm to swell up and then die. When this didn’t happen and Paul suffered no ill effects, another conclusion was made, a polar opposite of the first. From a murderer to a god; these are too extremes. This illustration proves the point not to jump to conclusions. While you may be eager to know what influenced someone to do this or that, only God knows the ultimate reason. Thus, the next time you see something from afar, sort out the facts first to ensure that you reach a logical conclusion.
by Jay Mankus