Why We Should Give Others the Benefit of the Doubt

Friday, February 12, 2016


Have you ever been let down by a friend or family member? Have you ever wondered what was going on in a loved one's head when they did that thing that was so hurtful? Of course you have! Every human on the planet has experienced those same feelings!

But how should we react when that happens? It's easy to assume the worst- that they don't care about us or maybe even were trying to hurt us- but this is the wrong way to think about it.

Be On Their Side

Friends and family members love us. They are there for us and have our backs (if we have surrounded ourselves with good ones). Let's not forget that fact.
Sure, it hurts when they don't have time for us, or say something rude- but did they really mean anything by it? Honestly, most of the time, we are probably blowing it way out of proportion. 

-So what if they cancelled plans; they were probably really sorry to miss out!
Don't assume that they are cancelling because they don't care about you as much anymore. Chances are, the still love you just as much and wish they could hang out.

-So what if your cousin made a comment that made you feel self-conscious; she probably meant nothing by it. She probably wasn't even talking about you.

We've picked our friends and continue to spend time with our family for a reason: We like them. We trust them. We enjoy them.

So why is it that the second anything is said or done that hurts our feelings, we assume the worst? We need to start believing in our loved one's and giving them the benefit of the doubt.

What does God say?

The Bible talks a lot about living at peace with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Ephesians 4:1-3 says:
...walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
To me, this verse is a huge reason for giving people the benefit of the doubt. If we are overly sensitive, always assuming that those we love are "anti-us", then how can we also be humble, patient, and loving? We can't do both. Giving the benefit of the doubt often goes hand-in-hand with peace-keeping.

And let's take it a step further- what if our loved one did mean to hurt us?
Well, I think (at least at first) we should still give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes people get angry and say things they don't mean. Sometimes people are passive aggressive. Sometimes people avoid us on purpose for a variety of different reasons. There is usually an explanation for why people are acting wrongly. Those reasons don't make it right, but we should be willing to say, "That person hurt me, but that's not like them to do that. It's not about me. I wonder if they are ok". Giving people the benefit of the doubt enables us to put other's feelings above our own.



Should We Always Give The Benefit of the Doubt?

Are there times where we should stop giving people the benefit of the doubt? Yes, of course!
If your friend is consistently verbally abusive, your husband often smells like someone else's perfume, your sister spreads nasty rumors about you, or your employee's story doesn't line up again, then by all means, use your common sense. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is not the same thing as giving them undeserved, unwarranted trust. Be wise. If you see destructive or inappropriate patterns occurring, then start to guard yourself. You can still love those people without continuing to be surrounded by them.


The Bottom line is this: be discerning, be wise, but don't be so self-conscious and afraid of losing people that you fail to give your loved-one's the benefit of the doubt. For as long as it is warranted, trust them. Believe in them. Stop assuming the worst. That isn't fair to them and it is only hurting you.

15 comments

  1. Great advice! I think sometimes life can leave us very skeptical and critical of others to the point that we lose our trust. The way I view it is as christians we should always treat others the way we want to be treated. We probably wouldn't want others to automatically assume we have bad intentions, so we should reciprocate that same thought-process with others. Thanks for sharing! Great post :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Exactly!
      When I think about how I would feel if someone I loved jumped to the conclusions about me that I do about them, I realize that I'd be really hurt and angry. I don't want to act like that towards anyone, but especially people that I know and care for!
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment!

      Delete
  2. I absolutely love this post; it really aligns with my beliefs. I was actually thinking about that this week when I was driving. There are always really annoying drivers this one place on my ride to work with the lanes merge. I seem to always get rudely cut off by people and it drives me nuts. But instead of letting my road rage take over, I've been trying to think of alternative - have I ever done that to someone? Yes, I have. Was it because I was trying to be malicious? No, it was because someone had to go first in the merge and the other person wasn't making a fast enough move. Maybe I didn't see someone. So I've been trying to push myself and giving people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to driving this week :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lindsay! I appreciate that!
      I love that you are trying to do better while driving! I catch myself needing to improve my road-rage ALLL the time. I appreciate that reminder to check myself in that way too! Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment!

      Delete
  3. I have a friend that always says, 'if I say something that can be taken two ways, I mean it the good way.' This made me think of that! It's always best to give each other a little grace before assuming the worst. Love this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha. That is a good saying! I may need to use that sometime! ;)

      Delete
  4. I definitely needed to hear this this morning. I love the scripture you included!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad that it encouraged you, Annie!

      Delete
  5. I think the last point is very important--consistency and discernment matter, but I completely agree with the idea of giving others the benefit of the doubt if at all possible. I find it is usually a good idea to "assume the best"-case scenario instead of the worst. Usually we make up overdramatic reasons for why someone hates us and then later find out they were just distracted or they had a stomachache or basically, the reason we felt mis-treated had nothing to do with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! We can never leave discernment out, because there are always going to be times where we have to make an exception, but we have to discern when those times are. Thanks for reading and commenting, Rachel!

      Delete
  6. this is a great post! I also give the benefit of the doubt because hurting an entire relationship because of being hurt is only going to make us hurt more. Holding onto certain situations can only hold us back. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so very true! Even if that person doesn't "deserve" the benefit of the doubt, we should still do all we can to remain at peace with that person as much as possible.

      Delete
  7. I could have used this post about a week ago. Great things to remember!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love the verse you pulled out for this. You're right...even if it's not "deserved" we still owe that thought.


    Coming Up Roses

    ReplyDelete

Affiliates