Assume the best, or don’t assume at all. Several pastors took a plane trip to a pastor’s conference, and they discovered another pastor from their area was sitting a few rows ahead of them in the first-class section. When the plane reached its destination, the preachers exited without saying a word to the other preacher.

They should have kept their mouths shut, but they didn’t.

Word soon spread at the conference that the preacher who had sat in first class was wasteful. Consequently, many of the other pastors kept their distance. But one good-hearted pastor decided to talk directly with the accused preacher about the issue. When he learned the truth, he was shocked: The preacher had been sitting in the economy section of the plane, but a stewardess offered him an empty first-class seat. The rumor was false. But it was already too late. The damage caused by the other preachers’ wrong assumptions had already been done.

Things are not always as they appear. This is why it’s always better to verify the facts than to assume or judge according to the appearance. This will help us avoid many problems. It will also free us from the frustration of overthinking a situation, guessing what others are thinking based upon the way they respond to us, or reading into their words. Instead of judging motives, love takes others at face value, “is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity,” and “rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:5b–6).

Maybe someone looked at you the wrong way. Someone else spoke to you in a way that seemed out of character. Another person ignored you. Did you assume the worst? Your assumption could be right. But the assumption may also be totally wrong. Instead of jumping to conclusions based upon appearances or looking at the other person as a problem, try talking with the other person first — or assuming the best. Don’t think about the other person’s response for too long, or you will probably end up thinking wrong.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder