I can't tell you how many times I've gone to Dad wanting help solving a problem only to have him answer, "Josh I'm sorry but I don't have enough information."
It used to drive me crazy.
But now I get it. One of the biggest mistakes people, Christians, make in trying to help other people is that they assume they know more than they really do.
If you've ever been on the receiving end of counsel like that you know how much it can hurt.
I have. I think of one time in particular, I'll always remember the phone call.
I pick up. It's a friend and he's upset. Before we really even have a chance to get into much of a conversation, he's into it, telling me the things he thinks I'm doing wrong. Funny thing is, though I do alot of things wrong…believe me; this time he was pretty far off. His information was wrong. The problem was he was so committed to his perspective every time I tried to give him more information he thought I was just defending myself.
Thing is, I could understand where he was coming from because there are way too many times when I've done the same.
I remember for example teaching a class where a student kept falling asleep. I was becoming pretty disappointed, wondering to myself where his heart was at, until he came up to me and apologized because he was being forced to take some medicine which was making him totally drowsy.
One reason we assume, and I have to credit Paul Tripp for this, is because know a little bit about Scripture. It sounds funny to say that, so I probably should explain it a bit. The problem is not with Scripture, it's with what we do with it. We've got this amazing resource in God's Word. What I mean is we know alot about people we don't even know just because we know what Scripture teaches about people. Like I know that people have sinful hearts. Like I know that people are often self-righteous, and on and on we could go. But we have to be careful our knowledge of Scripture doesn't go to our head; when working with someone we need to remember just knowing those general truths about people doesn't mean we know how those truths play out specifically in that person's life. Their self-righteousness might show up in a thousand different ways. Their sin might express itself very differently than mine.
Another reason we assume is laziness. Another pride. Another naivete. Sometimes we don't take the time to ask the questions we need to ask because we think it will take too much work. Other times we trust too much in our common sense or biblical knowledge or our experience and don't gather enough information. Still other times because we think our way of looking at things is the only way of looking at things – and we forget that though people are very similar they at the same time are very different.
I guess what I'm saying is that, it's o.k. to slow down and say you can't answer a question because you don't have enough information. In fact, it's more than o.k., it's necessary, it's biblical.
After all didn't Solomon say, "He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him."