Pre.sume (pri-zoom) v. 1. To take for granted; assume to be true in the absence of proof to the contrary. Latin: praesumere (prae—before + sumere—take).
Sounds innocent compared with pride, greed or lust, certainly not one of the seven deadly sins. Yet David prayed, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!” (Ps.19:13). Presumption can dominate our lives. Why? Because it leaves the Spirit out of the equation. It assumes that we naturally think like God. In fact, it is independence of the vilest nature. Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. Not even close.
David was a warrior from the time he was a teenager. He knew how to fight—against bears or bullies. Yet when the Philistines challenged his kingship, he asked the Lord if he should fight them. God responded affirmatively.
The Philistines tried again; they were down but not out. David could have assumed that God’s word would echo the last one, but the man who was not afraid to take on a lion asked God what to do. He lived in dependence upon the real Warrior.
How easy to presume in areas of strength. We all need God, sure enough, but not as much in places where we can function sufficiently, or so we think. But Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing!” Round that off to zero. God doesn’t look for creativity—He wants conformity. That is why Jesus gave Him so much pleasure—He only wanted to do His Father’s will.
HOW ARE WE GUILTY?
Listen to these comments: “The Stewardship Drive worked well last year. Let’s do it again.”
“I think we should have a sermon series on the family. Other churches are doing it.” “He served well on the Council. We should ask him again.”
These statements may reflect a portion or all of the truth. Or they may represent earthbound thinking that leaves no room for heaven’s input. Presumption overlooks the fact that God has opinions. It assumes that good old common sense is sanctified enough to discoverer the will of God without seeking it. Common sense serves as a helpful tool, but it fails to keep us walking in the Spirit. It too easily assumes that a good idea is a God idea. Just because something worked before does not mean it will work again, and it sometimes means it won’t.
The God who says, “Behold I do a new thing,” is not obligated to the past. Yesterday does not determine tomorrow. But we who fall into routines can make them into ruts—and miss the Spirit. How foolish to think that God will automatically bless our plans because we have creative ideas. Good ideas often prove a hindrance to the kingdom of heaven coming into our midst. David didn’t need a good idea to defeat the Philistines. He did something far better than to check with his generals—he wisely consulted God. We need to do the same.
Part 2 will show why we are often guilty of presumption and how we can overcome it.