Benefit of the Doubt

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The other day I had to write an e-mail to someone that contained a hard message. I was worried that they would take offense or that they would not hear my heart. As I finished the message I read through it again before hitting send. That’s when I noticed that in those two short paragraphs I had included 12 smiley faces. 12 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 😉 🙂 😉 🙂 🙂 😉 🙂 ! That’s nuts!

My daughters are teenagers and do a lot of texting and IMing. We’ve been talking about the importance of wording their messages correctly so that their meanings are not misconstrued. Before they hit send they should read their words aloud in their angriest voice. If the message still sounds OK then they can send it, but if their words become hurtful or argumentative then they need to change their message or add a 🙂 to make sure the recipient hears what they’re really saying.

Isn’t it crazy how we tend to jump to conclusions and assume the worst about people? We automatically hear things in angry voices, take silence to mean disagreement, and forget to see things from the other person’s perspective. I wonder what would happen if we started assuming the best about people? Think about it…

  • The next time a person at church refuses to shake your hand on Sunday, don’t assume they are mad at you- assume they have a cold and are kind enough not to share their germs!
  • The next time your teenager responds to your text with an abrupt “K,” don’t assume they’re being disrespectful- assume they are sending you the quickest reply possible while at a stoplight because they know you would never approve of texting and driving.
  • The next time you stop by your pastor’s house on a Saturday evening and everyone’s still in their pj’s, don’t assume they are being lazy- assume that it’s laundry day and all their real clothes are in the wash!
  • The next time a friend posts on Facebook that she wishes people would stop posting pictures of their wonderful life, don’t assume she’s talking about you & your pictures- assume she is having a bad day and send some encouragement her way.
  • The next time your pastor’s wife rushes past you in the hallway at church, don’t assume that she thinks she’s too good to stop and talk to you- assume that her small child is puking in the nursery!
  • The next time someone tailgates you down that narrow country road, don’t assume they are an impatient jerk- assume they’ve got stomach problems and are trying to get to a bathroom pronto!

Your good assumptions may not always be correct (just like our bad assumptions are not always correct), but I would much rather stand before God having given too much grace than not enough.

Giving one another the benefit of the doubt is a good thing. Why? Because…

A little grace goes a long way.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Speak and act as those who will be judged by the law of freedom. For judgment is without mercy to the one who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.     

James 2:12-13

What are some ways you can assume the best about someone today?


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One Comment

  1. shelly
    Posted March 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    One way that I remember to release bad assumptions is to remember how flawed I am. So, even if the person did mean something negative toward me, I remember the times that I have been in that position. I can’t seem to hold the stone to cast! : )

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