You might not have all the information. In fact, there is a good chance that you don’t because no one can know everything that there is to know. If you assume your co-worker didn’t finish his half of the report because you think he hates you, you might be embarrassed to find that the real reason is that he didn’t have the time due to his mother being in the hospital. If we come into a situation and start accusing or assuming, all we are doing is saying that we are better than the other person because we know everything that there is to know. That’s also known as pride and as Proverbs 29:23 says, “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.” Don’t set the situation ablaze, don’t bring the hammer down and for goodness sake, don’t start shooting, because there’s a chance that you might be misinformed!
By shooting first, you develop a dangerous precedent for yourself for the future. While there will definitely be times when you are right, if you keep “shooting first,” you’re only setting yourself up for failure. You might feel good about yourself, having been right before about your husband/wife’s problems or your boss’s racist reason for not promoting you, but one day, you’ll feel real confident about shooting first and all you’ll be doing is shooting yourself in the foot. In confidence, you might accuse your business partner of cheating, only to find that he wasn’t. That’s a shot in the foot. You might start accusing your wife of running around with other men because she’s been cold to you, only to find that she’s been sick the last few weeks and you hadn’t even noticed. That’s a big shot in the foot. Being right doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. Set a good precedent and develop a good habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt.
By reserving your judgment, you’ll develop trust with the other person, attracting more people to you. No one likes others accusing them or assuming they know them or misunderstanding them. All of that leads to cracks in the relationship, but by giving them the benefit of the doubt, the other person will feel more comfortable around you. They know they won’t be falsely accused or misunderstood. Doesn’t that sound like someone you want to be friends with? I know it does to me! Hold the guns, keep your assumptions in check and people will be more likely to call you friend.
While not everyone might consider the Bible as absolute truth like Christians do, there is no arguing that it does have wisdom for all people too. It says that “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).” I truly believe that we need to challenge ourselves with that in all areas of our life. If not, our trigger-happiness will only lead to self-inflicted wounds.
Ask first, shoot later.