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Let’s be presumptive positive
Linda Buxa
by Linda Buxa
October 5, 2020

Two months ago I didn’t even know the words presumptive positive could go together.

Then, in the beginning of August, 77 NFL players’ COVID-19 tests were labeled “presumptive positive.” Turns out the tests were false, and the players were actually negative. They received a second negative test to confirm it.

You know what I realized? We all have presumptive reactions.

Except I’m quick to be presumptive negative about people. My natural inclination seems to presume the worst, even if my presumptions are false. This is why lately I’ve been mulling over my own negative presumptions and ones I’ve been observing around me.

Do we let someone’s past cloud their reputation even though those wrongs have been forgiven? Do we judge people who make different life choices? Are we quick to dismiss (even rudely) people who vote differently than we do? Do we enjoy seeing people stumble or fail? Do we put the worst possible spin on someone’s facial expression or text or comment? Do we want people to “owe” us, even though Jesus already paid for their sins?

(Rhetorical questions are pretty obvious and leading, aren’t they?)

The Holy Spirit has been using these rhetorical questions and some portions of the Bible to help me look at how I can be more presumptive positive toward others. (Maybe it will help you too.)

When I was growing up, I learned about ten commands that God gave to a group of people called Israelites. (These commands are commonly known as the Ten Commandments. Maybe you’ve seen the movie about the period of history that took place about 3,500 years ago.) Anyway, one of God’s rules for people is this: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

I was taught this didn’t only mean not to tell lies about my friends or betray them or ruin their reputations, though that was obviously part of it. God was telling me also to defend my friends, talk positively about them, and take their words and actions in the kindest possible way.

You know what the hard part about this is? We live in a real world where sometimes people will be rude, hurtful, deceitful, or even evil—and sometimes intentionally. Plus, it won’t be fair because they won’t always presume the best about me or you and probably won’t take my words and actions in the kindest possible way.

That’s why I find the advice from the apostle Paul to people who lived in Rome about two thousand years ago helpful today too: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

How do I do this? Well, it starts with knowing that Jesus paid for all the times I’ve been presumptive negative, for the times I have been intentionally rude and hurtful, for the times I’ve not been a peace promoter.

Now that Jesus made peace with God and me, I can pass that along to others—as far as it depends on me. I can’t change what other people presume or how they act, but thanks to the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me, I have the strength to be presumptive positive.

 

Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who really, really doesn’t want this to be a debate about the COVID testing process.