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The sin of presumption

By Debbie Ogunjobi

Assumption is the basis for every presumption. It is taking a position based on information that is not altogether backed by facts. We assume that A is B because its been proven in the past or it is an idea supported by personal taste or religious or cultural bias.

Assumption presupposes that a stand is taken after which actions and reactions begin. Our instincts are responsible for a lot of the things we assume. Most people tend to lean towards the familiar. They think its reliable and its safe. We’ve been taught about good and evil and our moral compass causes us to make a lot of assumptions.

It comes as no surprise to find people heartbroken and shell shocked when kindness begets wickedness and people repay our good with evil. At one point or the other all of us are guilty of the crime or sin of presumption; motivated by goodwill or even sentiments we get on the wrong side of God and the law. The consequences are no less dire than any other crime or sin and from a religious perspective, I have concluded that while God is all good, not all (seemingly) good is Godly.

This same month 18 years ago, my mother lost her battle with cancer and I will never forget the world of regret I saw in her eyes as she mournfully but quietly warned me about presumptuous sins! She said she had done good but was paid back with wickedness and death. I prodded and begged her to tell me more but she said I didn’t have the maturity or even sense to be told! “I am already dead; if I tell you and you get killed as well, I would have died twice”.

I was inconsolable when she passed and looking back she was right; I would have gone barging into danger to make anyone pay if I thought they were culpable in her death. I didn’t have the sense or conviction to recognise that revenge in itself is presumptuous. I had always assumed her big heart and open arms put her in that position. In that regard I am nothing like her, I don’t open my home to everyone and I guard my privacy jealously. I have lost count of the house helps that she adopted and trained; I still get calls from all over from these siblings. She just really loved people and her presumption was that they all loved her.

It turns out that being a hermit of sorts is no safeguard from evil, no one is immune from it.    My natural instinct is to help people in trouble especially if I care for them. I have found that my heart is just as large as my mother’s and I will jump to the defence of loved ones and even anyone getting a raw deal. I have always believed it is the human calling to be of help to one another. If you asked me last week, I would tell you that love is my expression and kindness my language.

This week I would amend that to love is my expression but wisdom my guide. Being a Christian, I assumed doing good works gets one a free pass but that’s missing the wisdom part. In everyday life, even when you take religion out of it, any act done without full access to facts devoid of sentiments can actually make one culpable for a crime or a grievous sin. Imagine lending a stranger a knife who then sticks it into someone’s heart or worse still yours!

The moral and spiritual conundrum I am prayerfully navigating is how to balance goodness with Godliness. Walking the narrow road to one’s salvation is not without its challenges. The truth is never fully exposed and I have found that people will take advantage of love and kindness again and again. A few years back, I had given a sizeable amount of jewellery to a friend who had been robbed. She claimed she had lost everything and since I didn’t really wear that much I had shared mine with her.

My opinion of her changed when I started seeing the pieces she claimed robbers took years later. I felt I had been taken advantage of. I felt so foolish. Years later I find myself in a similar position and this time the stakes are a lot higher. I can’t say I have not been warned but loyalty, no matter how misguided, is an attribute of mine and I am reminded of my mother. Dead at 48, full of regrets and suffering from the wickedness that was the dividend of presumptuous kindness.

It’s been a difficult week, I miss my mom still. Time has not healed this wound but I soak myself in prayer. Mostly asking for forgiveness and mercy. By my own words and confession I am guilty of presumptuous sins. Being a new creature should have meant I asked God for wisdom and direction in any and everything. Just like a little child who insists on petting every dog, I have been bitten severally but only because I kept God in a box and still did things by my own leading; same mistake that caused king Saul in the Bible his throne. I want to be better, to do better, to live better and submit all to the Most High. I am His vehicle, so I let Jesus take the wheel. I end with a prayer that has sobered me up this past week. It has new meaning now; I finally get it. Psalm 19:13

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

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