Happy New Year! I am believing with you that 2018 will be the best year ever. One of the things that I do on the first day of January every year is to review my goals from the prior year to assess my accomplishments, and then I set new goals for the year. One of the goals that I have set for myself this year is to believe the best about people.
I Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love thinketh no evil.” To be honest, that is something that I struggle with. Sometimes I am quick to jump to a negative conclusion, and I want to change that. If I don’t understand why a person said what they said or did what they did, instead of jumping to conclusions and making assumptions and judgments without having all of the information, I need to ask questions, gather information, and get clarification. When I don’t it leads to problems because, as Proverbs 13: 10 (NAS) says, “Through presumption comes nothing but strife.” According to Pastor John Lawrence, of Calvary Chapel of Jonesboro, “Presumption doesn’t know what is right, doesn’t ask, and goes ahead with the plan and action without finding out.”
For example, I made an appointment to meet with a contractor to assess the work that needed to be done to our house. He did not show up for the appointment, and he didn’t call either. He stood me up! So I texted him and told him I would have appreciated him giving me the common courtesy of calling or texting me if he could not make it to the appointment we had set. The next day his wife called me and said he was in the hospital after having suffered a heart attack. I felt two inches tall because I assumed that he was just plain rude. That’s why I need to get better at thinking no evil. How about you?
Sometimes people say things that are offensive. This year I am trying to change my thinking about this as well. When I encounter someone who says something crazy, this is what I am going to TRY to tell myself:
- “The enemy is behind this.” Ephesians 6:12 says, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. The more quickly you discern the devil’s activity, the better off you will be. When you recognize the enemy at work, sometimes that’s enough to help you make the decision to keep silent and allow the Lord to defend you.
- “They don’t intend to hurt me.” If your goal is to believe the best as in I Corinthians 13:5, you will have to come up with statements like this that put a positive spin on negative, hurtful speech and behavior. I Timothy 2:25-26 says people are sometimes caught in “the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” I believe that most people don’t want to hurt others, but they are wounded, and hurt people hurt people.
- “They don’t recognize what they are doing or how they sound.” Proverbs 11:12 says, “Whoever derides his neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding hold their tongue.” Jesus said in Luke 23:34, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Therefore it’s highly likely that the person who is being offensive doesn’t even know they are being offensive, and that can motivate us to offer grace instead of judgment.
- “If they were aware, they would make another choice.” Proverbs 10:23 says, “A person of understanding delights in wisdom.” Proverbs 17:27 says, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint.” So when I believe the best, I believe that it’s their lack of knowledge and awareness that is causing the problem, not that they are bad people.
However, I am not naive, mind you. We have to have a balanced worldview. I know that sometimes people do deliberately commit evil against us, and we must confront them in love as stated in Matthew 18:15. Job 20:3 says, “I hear a rebuke that dishonors me, and my understanding inspires me to reply.” Even John 2:24 says, “Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.” But I want to believe that evil is generally not the default mode for most human beings. So this year I am striving to think no evil and believe the best about people with the Lord’s help. Then when I have to think negatively because I really have no other option, that will be the exception and not the rule.
How do you think believing the best about others can help you in your relationships? Please leave a comment below.
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