‘To assume is to make an ass- of -u- and -me.’
Has it ever occurred to you that this common quip is a two-way phrase? It’s a play on the composition of the word ‘assume’ that requires two parties who are equally worthy of foolishness.
The art of becoming an ass
If tomorrow’s #1 New York Times Bestseller was ’12 Steps to Becoming an Ass’, you would need only one: assume everything. Ask no more questions, give all the answers (even when you have no idea), and unequivocally accept that there is only one truth, and that is your truth.
This is the essence of what it means to be an ass: to assume that not only are you the sole beholder of the truth, but that your truth is irrationally superior and entitles you to lord it over others.
The mutuality of being an ass
Unfortunately for some, being made an ass of is an equaliser. It serves no master. It strikes all of us with the same hoof.
If you are incapable of knowing everything (which, let’s face it, you are), then you logically have the capacity to assume (obviously), leading to the ad hominem conclusion that you can be made an ass of. Like me. Like everyone.
The humility of being made an ass
Once we have established that the ass has struck and we have found ourselves being made an ass of, we are left only with the bitter taste of humility. As none of us are immune to being made an ass of, we are all left with the choice of accepting humility or hardening our hearts.
Paul held a firm warning for those who sought to curtail this. In Galatians chapter 6, verse 7, Paul writes, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
This is a common adage repeated throughout Scripture whereby we receive that which we have begun. The beauty of Christianity is that we do not receive what we deserve, that being Hell and eternal separation from God, rather we receive an outpouring of grace found in the death and resurrection of Christ.
Yet, unless we receive Chris and His mercy, we will reap the consequences of our assumptions. And as our assumptions become more entrenched, they begin to parade themselves as truth.
We are no longer able to accept that we may be wrong and where we may have tasted the sweet bitterness of humility at realising we may be wrong, providing the opportunity to draw near to Christ in humility, we instead turn and declare in our heart, like the fool, “There is no God.”
I can never make an ass of God
Yet, God. God cannot be made an ass of. The Old Testament resonates His laughter at His enemi
n to watch the foolishness of man under the meagre shadow of Babel’s tower, and He is the one who subjected Himself to death’s realm, only to declare His power over even death.
Paul speaks beautifully of this in 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 13, “if we are faithless, He is faithful—For He cannot deny Himself.”
Though we are fully and, very evidently capable, of making assess of ourselves, God is fully incapable of doing so, for He is always faithful and true. He will have no assumptions, no brash misinformed decisions, and evidently, no mistakes.
This is good news for the humble ass, but for the foolish, this is a dire warning. Unless we place aside our assumptions, whether they are treasured cornerstones for our pride, or pillars we hide behind, they will eventually crack, crush, and consume us.
Let us repent of them and rest in the only One who knows all, and assumes nothing.
Blake Gardiner is from Auckland, sounds American, looks Swedish, but grew up in Laos. As an introvert, Blake lives life on the edge by socialising. When he isn’t putting his life at such risk, he enjoys reading theology and debating whether Interstellar is truly the greatest movie of all time.