Benefit and Have Lasting Relationships
Give others the benefit of the doubt! Misunderstanding and miscommunication are so regrettably common among Christians it is comical. Except it isn’t! They are a malignancy, and if unchecked will lead to our downfall. They are an especially destructive tool the enemy uses to bring division and strife. We have one clear weapon able to overcome. It is love!
Now love can be expressed in a variety of impulses and behaviours. In this context, there is one important feature outlined in 1st Corinthians 13:5. It is this:
“Love thinks no evil!”
What this phrase suggests is that, at the very least, we should tend toward trusting others and doubting suspicions. It’s hard to say how far it should go. But one thing is clear, we need to go further than we’ve taken it. In short, give others the benefit of the doubt.
Our tendency instead is to formulate negative opinions with very little information. We need to be wary, particularly because we know we have an enemy bent on division. An example from my life speaks volumes.
It happened when my wife was pregnant with our fifth child. Word had gotten to a man I thought was my friend that she was mowing the lawn instead of me. I came to understand he had already decided I was evil and this added to his case against me. It surfaced when he publicly berated me for being one of those deadbeat men who make their pregnant wives mow the lawn.
What he did not know was that my wife requested to mow the lawn (though I am still not sure why it would be anyone else’s business). Nevertheless, she wanted to be outside and get a little exercise. Furthermore, not wanting to be exposed to noxious fumes from the oven cleaning I had undertaken at her behest, she enjoyed the fresh air. Harmless enough one might think! But apparently enough to cement the destruction of a friendship and sully my name.
This is one incident I happened to have discovered. The real question is ‘how many opinions are formed through incidental events we never know about?’ And why are we so ready to believe the worst? Sustaining any friendship requires we put a stake in the ground, deciding to give others the benefit of the doubt. Even so, we will still find them imperfect in many ways. So what?
Love has an answer for this also. Love thinks no evil!