Make Charitable Judgments

If you love someone, you discipline your mind to assume the best about that person’s words or actions until you have the facts to prove otherwise. While such mental discipline may not seem to fit modern sentimental concepts of love, according to the Bible, love means sacrificing one’s own wants to meet the needs of another (John 15:12-14). The real opposite of love is not hate, but selfishness. Instead of selfishly assuming that you know everything about the thoughts and motivations behind the other person’s words or actions, in love you should selflessly assume the best interpretation of what the other person has said or done. This idea flows from Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:7 – Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Because you are called by God to love your fellow Christians, family members, neighbors, and even your enemies, you should assume the best of everyone.

In times of conflict, the participants’ presuppositions will become evident, for good or bad, leading to better or worse outcomes. When one person in the conversation looks at the other through sunglasses, everything will be tinted darker. Ken Sande observes, “If people sense that you have jumped to conclusions about them and enjoy finding fault with them, they are likely to resist correction. If, on the other hand, they sense that you are trying to believe the best about them, they will be more inclined to listen to your concerns.”

[Excerpted from Graciousness: Tempering Truth with Love, by John Crotts.]

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