Some of the women in our church met over the past several months to discuss Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements. It’s good to share what we learned because the spiritual knowledge contained within the book finds resonance in all of our world’s religious traditions—and most certainly with Christianity. In previous newsletters I shared with you the first two agreements: BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD and DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY.
The third agreement is DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. I saw a video clip on FB the other day with what appeared to be a pit bull dog dragging a helpless cat around, teeth seemingly clamped around the cat’s head. It was quite upsetting, actually, because I am a cat lover. For me, the clip seemed to be reinforcing all the stereotypes about the pit bull dog breed—that they are violent, destructive, ill-tempered, killing-machine kind of dogs. Well, that wasn’t exactly what the video turned out to be. The words THINGS AREN’T AWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM flashed across the screen. Then, the camera panned in for a close-up. Instead, what was happening was the cat had clamped its teeth down on the poor dog’s jowl and would not release the poor dog from its bite. Viewers were first led to assume that the dog was hurting the cat; the opposite was actually true.
One thing we know about Christian living is that we are called again and again not to judge—and making assumptions is a judgement issue. We do it all the time though: A man parking in a handicap spot looks perfectly fine to us, though his jeans may be hiding a prosthetic leg. We see a well-manicured woman paying for groceries with the modern equivalent of food stamps, but we don’t see behind the scenes: in reality she does her own manicures. Making assumptions about others reveals that which is in our own hearts and says quite a bit about state of our own spiritual health. Jesus in Luke 6:37 says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” That sounds like a really good deal to me!