One of the lessons that I taught in logic class was the nature of contradiction. True contradictions are rare because they depend upon very specific details conflicting with each other. For example, suppose someone came running into the building and said that there was basketball size hail coming down outside. We would immediately think about the weather. Was it sunny when we walked in? Cloudy? What was the temperature like? Did the forecast even call for a storm? Some might panic and start running to get their cars under cover. What would we do when we looked out the window and discovered that it wasn’t hailing at all? We would turn to the crier and brand him a liar! He might then say, “But I meant that it hailed in Vivian, South Dakota, July 23, 2010.” The time and place make all the difference.
Sometimes we overgeneralize and jump to conclusions. This is a bad practice. We must remember that truth is granular, and circumstances may be different between one person and the next. Jesus told us not to judge according to appearances, but to judge righteously (John 7:24). This means that we listen carefully to what a person has to say, ask a lot of questions, and then wait for more information before rushing to judgment. When we overgeneralize and jump to conclusions the consequences can be embarrassing for us because we will have to admit to being wrong. Jumping to conclusions can also cause division where there need not be any, and we don’t want to do that. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” Let’s seek to be precise in our words and actions.