Today we are going to learn about the danger of the sin of presumption. I know that this one rarely comes across our lives - or at least we rarely talk about it. Can't really remember a time when anyone dealt with this in a teaching or a sermon. But, since that is where we are in Proverbs - let's take a look today.
The Bible calls this sin "insolence," and we are warned that nothing comes through it except strife. The word for insolence here is the Hebrew word "zadon" and it means presumptuousness or pride. The idea here is that of a willful decision that has not consulted with God - or doing something without really knowing whether it is the will of God or not. We presume that we can do something or say something and we have no real idea whether the Lord is in it or not. But rather than back up and check - we push ahead. Suddenly the sin of presumption seems much closer to our world and lifestyle than we first thought. This was actually the original sin in the garden. Eve presumed that it would be OK to partake of the fruit - even though it was clearly NOT the will of God for her to do so. When she heard the arguments of the serpent, she presumed that the rules had changed.
The sin of presumption comes in so many ways. It comes when we decide that we really don't need to study and read God's Word. Our ignorance of the Bible only radically furthers our presumption. Some mistakenly lump presumption with initiative. But initiative considers what someone wants - or what they need - and rather waiting to be asked to do something - takes the initiative to do what is right. Presumption doesn't know what is right - doesn't ask - and goes ahead with the plan and action without finding out.
Through presumption comes nothing but strife. We first have strife with God because ultimately He is the One upon which we are presuming. We just figure that He approves what we want to do - and we do it. Later when we learn that it is sin - we justify ourselves and our actions claiming ignorance. Our most ignoranct moment was going ahead with our plans before we ever knew His will. Presumption draws upon pride for its strength. Pride tells us that we know what is best for ourselves - and we ought to be able to do some things without asking. We "presume" that we are free agents, able to do what we want without consequences. Yet, the consequences come - and come hard in the end. We also wind up with strife among people. Take 5 selfish people and put them in an organization. Each is prideful about their ability to lead - and each thinks their ideas are wonderful! Let them loose without any kind of restraint upon them - especially any when it comes to seeking the face and heart of God. Soon you will have more strife as they push forward with their "ideas" without any thought of their consequence (except the consequence of them being noticed, advanced, honored, etc.). They presume that because they think it is a good idea - it ought to be done - and done now. Oh, the battles, the strife, the infighting, and the grief that the sin of presumption causes. You sometimes watch entire churches set aflame with anger, broken relationships, and pride as they splinter due to the sin of presumption.
How do we keep presumption from creeping into our thinking and our lives? The second half of this proverb tells us that the cure for presumption is to receive counsel. But wisdom is with those who receive counsel. First, we receive the counsel of God. The Lord told Joshua at the beginning of his leadership over Israel, "This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night. So that you may be careful to do all that is in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success." There is the key - to know God's Word. We receive counsel when we make sure that what we are doing is in accord with the Word of God. We are wise when we make it a priority to seek His face and know His ways. Then we make certain that what we are doing is what He wants. No presumption - but careful seeking and careful ordering of our lives according to His direction for us. The same is true when we take the time to ask for counsel from others BEFORE we launch out into an endeavor. The Word tells us that in an abundance of counsellors there is victory! How much better we do when we take the time to ask someone - and hone our ideas through the wisdom and eyes of others. We are resuced from our own extremes - and learn to live to serve one another - even in how we push forward with what we are desiring to do.
Before we end today's proverb I would like to give one memorable Biblical example. When Joshua led Israel, the people of Gibeon came to him and the leaders of Israel deceptively. They wore worn out clothes and took crumbled provisions to make them think they were from a far country. They were from Canaan - and were not to be a people with whom Israel entered into any covenant. But Joshua and the leaders believed their eyes - and presumptuously decided to enter into a covenant with the Gibeonites. The Scriptures tell us that, "they did not seek the counsel of God." The end was a horrible decision - one that would cost them dearly. It happened all because they presumed to know what to do - and decided that they did not need to ask God about it. Oh the grief that would be spared if we would seek to destroy this sin of presuming upon God. The strife that would be avoided if we would only make it a lifelong practice to turn to Him and ask Him what should be done. Make it a point today to turn to the Lord - make it a point to turn to Him in every situation to ask His heart and His will. Learn from Joshua - that we need to meditate day and night upon the Word of God - so that we will do the will of God and prosper. That is how we can begin to see this little known - but often practiced sin removed from our lives.