Every relationship will experience conflict. Whether its disagreements, confusion, or misunderstandings… if you know someone long enough, something will eventually happen to create tension. People will upset, hurt, disappoint, anger, or frustrate you. They are human (so are you). So, there is really no way around it. When these situations arise, do you respond in anger or are you able to give the benefit of the doubt to the ones you love?
Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means when you do not have all the information, even in conflict, you are willing to assume the best, put negative judgment aside, and respond favorably. Love gives the benefit of the doubt. It does not fill its mind with negative assumptions. It seeks to work through difficult situations even when you are disappointed or proven wrong.
The Bible says, love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). This does not mean that love is naïve. It does, however, mean that love gives the benefit of the doubt. It chooses to see the best in others. It does not make assumptions and rash judgments. Instead, it seeks to endure and work through difficulties.
When you don’t give the benefit of the doubt, your response creates a situation that you and others have to heal from. We don’t give the benefit of the doubt because we want to, but because we choose to and because we love. It is a selfless act.
Here are some things you need in order to successfully give the benefit of the doubt:
1) Love. You must know how to love someone. You can’t expect someone to accept you as you are, but then expect them to be perfect. That is not unconditional love. Loving with condition is based in selfishness and selfishness will never allow you to give someone the benefit of the doubt.
2) Mercy and Grace. You must reject the desire to respond to your emotions and choose to show compassion.
3) Patience. You must be patient in seeking the truth and resolving conflict. The benefit of the doubt does not jump to conclusions.
4) Understanding. You must attempt to see what it’s like in the other person’s shoes. They may be afraid to be themselves because of abandonment, rejection, or other issues. Assume that the person has a vested interest in being truthful and growing with you, then work with them towards that.
5) Forgiveness. You must be willing to forgive and forget. Do not allow yourself to be bitter. Once you let go of the initial anger, leave it in the past. (Read my blog on Singleness: 7 reason why you forgive and forget for more information on this)
Remember, even when you are proven wrong or feel like you made a mistake in giving the benefit of the doubt, love still tries to work through difficult situations. Even in conflict and confusion, it is possible to communicate in love. So, when tension begins to rise, instead of responding based on your initial emotions choose to give the benefit of the doubt and seek to gain understanding
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