First Corinthians 13:7
[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The Benefit of the Doubt
There was a true story of a new pastor who went to visit a prospective church member who lived next door to a bar. The apartment that the man lived in shared a hallway and entrance to a bar. One day the new pastor went into the apartment through the bar entrance and visited the man in the upstairs apartment. A couple of ladies who were home were watching outside their apartment window and saw the pastor go inside. An hour or so later, they saw him come out of the bar and apartment door entrance, but he was having a hard time walking. The women thought that the new pastor had just gone into the bar and was drunk when he came out and told others about this. When the story got back to the pastor, who was asked to explain himself, he said that he had just visited a prospective new church member in his apartment, but when he came downstairs, he turned his ankle and couldn’t walk very well. No one had given the new pastor the benefit of the doubt and thought the worst when that was not the case at all. In fact, he was doing what he was called to do. First Corinthians 13:7 says that love “believes all things,” which I believe means that love gives people the benefit of the doubt, something that the new pastor didn’t get.
The Deacon’s Incident
There was a revival years ago when an elderly man came forward and knelt at the altar. The deacon went over to the man, took a pack of cigarettes out of the man’s pocket, crumpled it up, and threw it on the floor. The deacon said, “Not in here you don’t,” apparently meaning that no one who came forward in their desire to be saved could do so while still a smoker. The pastor saw that, went up to the man, and gave him five dollars, saying, “Here, I’m so sorry. Do you want to put your trust in Christ and be saved?” Fortunately, the elderly man said yes, and he trusted in Christ right there. What if the pastor hadn’t stepped in at that moment? Would the man have left the church, never to return again? Would he have rejected Christianity for good believing that Christians are way too judgmental? Fortunately, we’ll never know. Every one of us is in a different stage of living the Christian life, and sanctification takes time. The deacon should have given the man the benefit of the doubt. Remember that love is patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4).
Never Getting a Second Chance
These two incidents involved people getting the wrong impression of someone, and they were completely wrong. Do you think you have ever done this before? I know I have, although not in the same ways that I mentioned above. Even so, I know I’ve looked at someone and judged them falsely. I once was hesitant to go up to a biker and share the Gospel with him, thinking he’d likely reject me on the spot. I finally did go, and I found out that he was already saved! I had the wrong impression, and it almost kept me from telling someone about Christ. What about you? When was your impression of someone completely wrong? Do you think that has happened at other times you are not aware of? Speaking for myself, I must say yes; God, forgive me of that. I will never try to do that again because we may never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
A Closing Prayer
Father, only You know the human heart. I do not. Please forgive me when I look at someone and judge them wrongly. Help me to see them the way that You see them and not make false assumptions or pass judgment by sight, and I need Your Spirit’s help in doing this. In Christ’s righteous name I pray.
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