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Generalizations

February 2, 2019

I was grading essays on American women of the 1910-30s and noticed a frequent pattern. Most of the students lumped all women into the suffragist, turned flapper, turned dust-bowler whose husband abandoned her. Granted, it’s a survey course for undergraduates and the essay was timed. I didn’t expect a fully-developed understanding of these distinct periods of history.

The reality is probably that these women were in the minority, but made an impact on history for the changes they brought about or reflected. What struck me is that it’s pretty easy for us to make generalizations when we study history – and when we observe society.

We are easily swayed to believe that everyone who holds one plank in a political platform agrees 100% with all the other planks. If they’re on our side, we embrace them blindly. If they’re not on our side, we abandon and abuse them. And if they’re professional politicians, they can’t be trusted, because they’re all crooked, like that one guy.

After hearing accounts of police brutality, we can believe that all police are bad and that all those running from the police are innocent. We hear about steroid use in athletics and conclude that all big league athletes just haven’t been caught yet.

When writing and speaking, it’s best to avoid absolutes like “all,” “always,” and “never.” It only takes one exception to prove you wrong.

But sometimes, “all means all and that’s all!”

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).

” Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12).

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12).

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

Those are not generalizations based on assumptions. They are generalizations from God. We are all guilty before God, but all of us who come to Him, who believe in Him, become children of God forever. And all that God does in our lives is to shape us into the image of His Son.

Those are promises to cling to.

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From → Romans

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