To presume is to take too much for granted, to be too bold, to overstep predetermined boundaries. A presumptuous person “rushes in where angels fear to tread,” said Alexander Pope.
Those descendants of Noah (Gen. 11) who got together and determined to build a city and tower to the heavens were presumptuous. They had total confidence in themselves and had no need for God, except to meet Him on their own terms.
Although most people today would not consider building a tower to reach the realm of God, we must guard against other presumptive thinking. We sometimes act as though we have all the answers. Our presumptions shows up in our thoughts and action. “No one will ever know I did it.” “I really don’t think it’s as bad as everyone thinks it is.” “A loving God could never punish me for something this trivial.” “Let me tell you how you ought to take care of that situation.”
Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians is needed today as much as it was then. “Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:13). Some of the harshest rebuke uttered by Jesus was directed toward the Jewish scribes and Pharisees, the “religious” people of His day. He called them “blind guides” who are “straining out the gnat and swallowing a camel” (Matt. 23:24). Their presumptive spirit and controlling actions toward others was a danger to themselves, but it was also deadly to those they purported to be helping.
Greatness in the kingdom of God is not achieved by having all the answers and sitting in authority and judgment over everybody else. Jesus taught that the greatest in His kingdom is the servant (Matt. 23:11). This reasoning is not the way of the world. It seems backwards or foolish to those who think one achieves greatness through power and position over others (1 Cor. 1:20-25). “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:28-29).
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).