April 2, 2012

The Benefit of the Doubt

All of us are most likely familiar with the old idiom of giving someone "The Benefit of the Doubt" - to believe something good about someone, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either; a favorable judgment granted in the absence of full evidence. Again, while we're all probably familiar with it, it seems more and more every day that we're practicing it less and less. And please note my use of the word "we". I'm guilty of this as well. Whether it's in traffic - fully believing that every person who's cut us off, slowed us down, or stolen our parking spot most assuredly left their house that morning with the sole mission of infuriating us - or in our gossip - which is cloaked and disguised as "concern" or "conversation". We automatically assume the worst. And typically, our assumption of the worst is usually reported to someone other than the individual it concerns. And many, many times, if we'd just taken the time to check the facts - if we'd given someone the "Benefit of the Doubt" - we could have spared ourselves and others a lot of unnecessary agony and pain.

In Proverbs 18:17, Solomon writes, "Any story sounds true until someone sets the record straight." Hearing this wisdom, isn't it good practice - biblical practice and principle - to "set the record straight", get the facts, go straight to the source before we believe anything? Isn't this a courtesy that we want others to extend to us? We don't even to think about the answer to that question. Of course it is. We WANT the benefit of the doubt! But for some reason, we often seem to be a whole lot slower to extend it to everyone else. 

Why is this? Is it laziness? Is it a lack of self control? Is it really as simple - yet as monumental - as the war going on in our hearts between the Spirit and the flesh? I'm not sure, but I want to know the answer. I want to get to the root of this poison in my heart, dig it up, and burn it! It has no place in my heart or in my life. Because in my estimation, assuming the worst judges and renders verdict without testimony. But benefit of the doubt says things like, "Go and sin no more" and "If you only love those who love you, what good is that?" 

The "Benefit of the Doubt".
Why does this rapidly seem like it's becoming a lost art?
And more importantly, what can we do to make it a practice in our own lives?

1 comment:

Ploner said...

We don't give people the benefit of the doubt because of pride and/or to alleviate our own guilt. We want to believe the worst about people to make ourselves feel either superior or less guilty about what we know is wrong in our own lives.