Give People the Benefit of the Doubt
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
I have to deal with so many people all the time throughout the week. I deal with people here at church in a work environment, nearly 15 staff members, other volunteers, and other people that come in. On the weekends, like on Sundays, we're talking hundreds of people. Here's what I have learned. I have learned that if I really want to, I can take things that people say so literally and so negatively that I could be discouraged. I can also choose to give people what I would call "the benefit of the doubt". And I find I live better.
So let me give you an example. Somebody might say something, and then they say, "you know, that was a good message, Vince", and I could think about how come they didn't say it was a "great" message. Somebody could say something like, "I think you could have done better," and I can take it in the most negative way. What I find is that a lot of people can say things and you could take it the most negative way. Somebody can crack a joke and you can say "you attacked me." I have found that if nothing else, give people the benefit of the doubt. When you're not sure how to take something, take it the most neutral or positive way you can. Life goes a lot easier that way.
I get this from 1 Corinthians 13:7, which is one of the 15 traits of love in the Bible. This chapter is called the "love chapter". If you read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, you pick up 15 traits of love, and I want to focus on a few of them related to giving people the benefit of the doubt.
1 Corinthians 13:7 says this: "love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres". Love always protects. Protects what? People and relationships. Love always trusts. Of course, you trust God, but you trust people to the degree in which you can. It says love always hopes. You're always hoping for the best in a relationship, and love always perseveres—it goes for the long haul. So here's what I want to say, when people say things or when people do things, and you're not sure, and there's any possible way that you can interpret it another way, interpret the most positive way possible. Somebody says something, just say they're having a bad day. Or maybe they really meant this, or somebody does something, maybe things aren't going their way. Here's the thing, just give people the benefit of the doubt.
Now, sometimes, you can't give people the benefit of the doubt, because there is no doubt what they did was mean and awful and vicious. And listen, it is what it is. You have to forgive them and you have to move on. Not forgive and forget, but forgive and release. So, give people a benefit of the doubt. Don't jump on every word and don't jump on everything—don't be jumpy. Let it go. Just let it go. Give people the benefit of the doubt. I know many times people have said, "Vince, you know, I said that to you. I hope that didn't bother you", and I go, "Not at all". You know why? Because I gave them the benefit of the doubt. So instead of taking something and running with it negatively, when you give people the benefit of the doubt, you're better for it and you give them room to be better for it as well. Do you give people the benefit of the doubt? It's a great way to live.
Let's pray. Father, I pray that you'll help us give people the benefit of the doubt. Lord, You gave us the benefit when there was no doubt that we did not love you. We were sinners and we turned our back on you. And I pray Almighty God because you gave us the benefit when there was no doubt that we were alienated from you and sinful. Help us to give other people the benefit of the doubt as well. We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen. As you go throughout the day, don't take it the wrong way. give people the benefit of the doubt as long as you can.