Yes I’m talking to you, Mr./Mrs. Judge of the universe. Your honour, oh ye Mr./Mrs. self-appointed supreme court judge of the whole world. Yes, I’m talking to you, and unfortunately, I am talking to me too, as I am one of the justices of the court. I saw a quote online today and it goes like this “Jumping into conclusions isn’t exactly a form of exercise”. I had such a good laugh, because, truly, if jumping into conclusions, or jumping to pass judgement is a form of exercise, I bet a lot us won’t need to spend any extra time at the gym to be fit, because we keep jumping into conclusions about people every minute of everyday. That’s constant exercise mehn! So just before you jump into calling him (or her) an ass, (putting only him in the title was sly, I know *evil grin*) why don’t you take a step back for a quick minute and read this piece.
Why my obsession with the word “ass”? Clean your dirty mind buddy, I don’t mean that ass. I mean ass as in donkey (Oh, and you really don’t want to know what came up when I searched for images of an ass, but you already know right?). Where was I? Oh yes, why my obsession with the ass?
I recently read (actually heard) a story in the Bible about a prophet called Balaam, whose ass spoke to him. In summary, some king asked prophet Balaam to curse the people of Israel. God had told Balaam not to curse the people, and Balaam knew he didn’t have the approval of God to curse the people, but maybe just to save face or whatever, Balaam still decided to journey to where the Israelites were camped, in line with the royal request.
On the way, Balaam’s ass began to misbehave. Instead of the ass to pass the main road, it diverted into the bush. Balaam was upset and spanked the ass. Instead of the silly ass to follow Balaam’s instruction in order to avoid another spanking, it went ahead and crushed Balaam’s leg against a wall. The ass definitely got spanked again. As if that was not enough, the ass decided that enough was enough, and just sat down and refused to move. By this time, even though Balaam was an anointed prophet of God, he was livid and spanked the stupid ass again.
*Insert Mount Zion Film* action sound track here*
At this point, even the heavens felt the pain of the ass, and God miraculously opened the mouth of the ass, so Balaam could have a conversation with it. Unknown to Balaam, the ass had been acting irrationally because it was trying to avoid an angel which was poised to kill Balaam if he passed the predetermined route. However, Balaam obviously could not see the angel, so he was incapable of understanding the irrational behaviour of the animal . Now this is the part that struck me in the human-ass conversation (Numbers 22 v 28-31)
28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.
31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell face down.
See how that relationship went from a hundred to zero real quick? In fact, I dare say in this case, Balaam was the ass for getting so mad that he threatened to kill an ass that had been faithful and loyal for many years, because of the mistakes of a day, when in reality, the ass was just trying to save Balaam’s ass (pun intended). All the years of good service and sacrifice went down the drain, and Balaam believed the worst of his ass.
I agree that it is human for us to sometimes jump into conclusions, especially when the evidence is compelling (I mean, the ass did crush Balaam’s leg) but I think that especially for people who have been faithful or good to us in the past, we should be less hasty to jump into conclusions. We need to learn how to engage, learn how to call our friend back and say “Hey buddy, you sounded a bit short when I called you earlier, are you doing okay?” We need to ask why a person who always pays their debt on time has not paid the last two instalments. We need to learn how to say “This is very unlike you, what is going on?”
Simply put, we need to learn how to give people the benefit of a doubt, and maybe if we do, we may find out that our friend who sounded short on the phone just got into a spat with her horrible boss, or the friend who has stopped paying her debt to you is secretly battling an illness.
I promise you that when I write like this, it is truly from the heart and it is because I have seen a problem in my life that I need to fix. I used to tell a good friend of mine “Always believe the best of people” but I think I have fallen short of that standard lately. However, I am ready to try again. Are you?
Please share your experiences. When have you jumped into conclusions or prematurely judged someone and then found out that you were wrong? After how many offences is it enough to label someone an ass?
*Mount Zion Films- A popular Christian movie production company in Nigeria.
You can read the unabridged version of Balaam’s story in Numbers 22.