Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Believe The Best

You’ve probably heard it said, “Don’t assume the worst about people, but instead believe the best.” This is something that I hope people do for me. It can be a little harder to do it for others though.

I remember many times as a teenager that I would come home and complain about something a friend had said to me. Once I finished venting my frustration, my mom always tried to help me see the situation from my friend’s point of view. Maybe she’d had an awful day and without thinking took her bad attitude out on me. Or maybe she had no idea how her words would sound and she didn’t mean to offend or upset me. Perhaps I’d misunderstood what she said. It was also possible that I was the one who’d had a bad day, and I was just being overly sensitive to her comment.

Usually, my mom was right. Once I calmed down, I saw the situation more clearly. But even if I wasn’t sure if my friend deserved it, my mom always encouraged me to give her the benefit of the doubt, to believe the best about her.

Those who love us don’t purposefully set out to hurt our feelings. They want to bless us, not offend us. Yet we often do feel hurt or get upset by things that are said or done. In those moments, it’s vital for us to practice giving others the benefit of the doubt. That means that instead of assuming the person meant to hurt us, we assume that they didn’t. We believe the best about them – that they didn’t intend to wound us, and that of course they care about us. 

This doesn’t mean that we excuse wrong behavior. And it doesn’t mean that certain words or actions won’t still hurt. We need to practice forgiveness every time we are wounded, whether it was consciously or unconsciously done. But when we believe the best, that the other person didn’t realize and unintentionally hurt us, then we can approach them gently and respectfully. Instead of accusing them, we can inquire about what happened, converse graciously, and work toward better communication. 

This perspective of believing the best has helped me overcome many miscommunications with people. This attitude also helps us not to become bitter and assume the worst of people. 

Proverbs 11:27 says, He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.

Think about the times you hurt someone else’s feelings without meaning to. Didn’t you wish they would have given you the benefit of the doubt? Didn’t you want them to believe the best about you, instead of assuming the worst?  

Let’s ask God to help us see other people as He sees them, to believe the best about them, and to grow in our relationships. I believe this practice will be life-giving for all of us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Guest Post - Sovereign Love

I have a special blessing for you today - a blog post from my mom! I always appreciate her wisdom, insight, and faith. I hope the truth she shares encourages you today. 

Sovereign Love

I have occasionally been accused of reckless driving. Like the time I missed my turn off, and I drove a large, U-Haul moving van backwards down the four-lane highway to gain a second chance at it. Of course, since it was 1:00 a.m. and the highway was deserted, I didn’t consider that reckless. But, I’m willing to concede that my children might think so.

There’s a popular worship song now that includes this line: “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God…”

Reckless: Marked by lack of proper caution; careless of consequences; irresponsible (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

God’s love certainly is overwhelming. It’s never-ending. But, reckless? Careless of consequences? Irresponsible?

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about the sovereignty of God. His sovereignty means He is never careless of consequences. He planned out actions and foresaw consequences before He created the world!

Just consider, God made the butterfly to come from a caterpillar and then a cocoon, because He knew that one day He would tell Paul to write, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) What better example of this “new creation” than the butterfly!

When God created the sheep, He knew that some day David would write, “The Lord is my shepherd…” (Ps. 23:1), and one day Jesus would say, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…. ” (John 10:11a) God knew that a lamb would be considered the purest and most innocent of animals, and that He would choose it for the Passover sacrifice and as a symbol for Jesus’ death.

When God planned to give man free will, was He aware of the consequences of that gift? Did He know that Adam and Eve would sin? Was the plan for salvation already in place? (See Gen. 3:15.) Is He sovereign?

I realize I’m never going to totally understand God’s sovereignty. But I need to remember that it is part of His character—an essential part of Who He is, an attribute to study in Scripture and to ponder in my daily life.

Have you heard of the book “Your God Is Too Small” by J. B. Phillips? Let’s put the idea of “reckless” for God in the “too small” column. Let’s celebrate God’s overwhelming, never-ending, pursuing, sovereign love.