Why We Need to Give Grace
Years ago, I made a decision to give others the benefit of the doubt, to believe the best in them before assuming the worst. That decision brings a lot of freedom to relationships. It was a choice to wrap my heart around the child-like faith that people aren’t trying to behave poorly, trying to get it wrong or making stupid mistakes on purpose. Here are some definitions for “benefit of the doubt”:
1) The state of accepting something/someone as honest or deserving of trust even though there are doubts
2) To default to a belief that another person’s intentions are honest, and not assume malice when there is uncertainty or doubt surrounding the circumstances.
3) To decide that you will believe someone, even though you are not sure that what the person is saying is true.:
4) The withholding of judgment so as to retain a favorable or at least neutral opinion of someone or something when the full information about the subject is not yet available.5) A favorable judgment granted in the absence of full evidence.
I choose to believe that people can be fragile and that they are trying their best as I know that I try my best. I never intentionally choose poor behavior. Why would I assume that others were? When you give people the benefit of the doubt over and over again it allows you to see the best in others and it brings out the best in yourself. It is living life with a grace and a hope for things to be better. When we live from grace, we make allowances for any of us to have bad days that can lead to bad moments. Life is not perfect, and none of us are either.
Giving people the benefit of the doubt can help offset our offendable hearts. It takes us out of the center of our small story and everything being about us. It is a way that we can honor others, even when they may not deserve it. I am simply giving away the gift of grace that God has given to me. And we cannot out-give the Gift-Giver. Do I really think that a friend running late, someone cancelling plans, my husband not emptying the dishwasher, another spouting a short hurtful comment or having a bad mood or a host of many other things, is really some plan against me? Come on. That is completely irrational thinking. The truth is that all of their behaviors are for reasons other than me. It really isn’t a plot against me to irritate my heart. None of us are perfect and we want others to give us the benefit of the doubt as well.
If we are to obey the Lord and love the way that scripture tells us to, then we are to never give up hope that we are all learning and becoming better. We can always give the benefit of the doubt. The Lord loves us unconditionally and is so patient with us. He sees our sinful nature and still chooses to extend us grace and new mercies every morning. Don’t you think it’s time we gave each other a break and cut some slack? Imagine the peace if we all started extending the benefit of the doubt? Our offendable heart is a tool of the enemy to rob us of better, more fulfilling relationships. Let go of the offense!
Do I allow the poor behavior of others to produce an offensive poor response from me? I should consider if they are having a bad day and quickly extend grace.
Lord, help me to honor others with the same patience and love that You have so generously given to me. Help me extend grace and give others the benefit of the doubt as I am not to judge their behavior because I have been known to behave poorly myself.
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