“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
I am fascinated by the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12. “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” The more I turn that simple idea over in my thoughts the more facets seem to come to light like a diamond placed on a black velvet mat by a jeweler.
Here is the facet I am thinking of today. The Golden Rule teaches us to give others the benefit of the doubt. (In itself, “the benefit of the doubt’ is an interesting turn of phrase, isn’t it?) I think it means something like this: “That person said something that hurt my feelings!” But then we say to ourselves, “Maybe they did not mean to. Maybe they have had a bad day or a really bad week. Idoubt if they realize how their words came across to me.”
THAT is the benefit of the doubt.
Isn’t that how you would want people to think about you if you were harsh or impatient or rude to them? Wouldn’t you appreciate it if people wouldn’t immediately think badly of you, but instead had thoughts like, “Maybe they were just pre-occupied or busy or under a deadline.” Or, “Maybe they have a sick child, or spouse, or aging parent they have to tend to.” Or, “Maybe they just didn’t hear me when I spoke.”
You see, often times we do not know what is going on in the life or in the mind of the other person. So we misperceive their signals and jump to quick judgments or conclusions about them. In fact, they are wrong judgments and conclusions.
So, once again, the Golden Rule teaches us to slow down, to be considerate, and to just ponder the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the other person wasn’t intentionally being harsh or rude or whatever. To give them the benefit of the doubt.
Because, after all, that is how you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed.