From Mindi Russell

THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT…(great devotional I read this morning)
” “When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. [Ephesians 4:29 (NCV)]”

“What did he/
she mean by that?” we wonder. We know not to say harmful things but what about when we think we’ve heard hurtful words?
Unfortunately, what we perceive is not necessarily what was meant or said. Sometimes, we over-analyze the things we hear: the words chosen, the way they’re said, and even the speaker’s tone of voice. We may assign mean intentions or hidden meanings that aren’t there. When that happens, it’s easy to find offense where none is meant.
Let’s face it, we all have had “foot in mouth” disease and said the wrong thing or the right thing the wrong way. We’ve used poor choices of words, forgotten something we were supposed to remember or mentioned something we should have forgotten.
We’ve called people by the wrong names and probably even asked a heavy-set woman when she’s due! We didn’t mean to hurt anyone; we were just being the imperfect people we are!

I suspect most people are like me, not anywhere near clever enough for veiled messages and double meanings. Yet, I often analyze someone else’s remarks as if they’ve spent hours choosing their words and practicing their delivery. When I think about it, if I’ve felt hurt or offended by another person’s words, it’s usually because of my own insecurities. (The closer we are to a person, the relationship, the easier it is to take offense).

I never intend to say rude or thoughtless things but, unfortunately, it sometimes happens.
Lord, let your Holy Spirit keep my foot out of my mouth. When in doubt, remind me that silence is always a good option. Just as I want others to give me the benefit of the doubt when I speak carelessly, show me how to be willing to do the same.
Lord, may your Holy Spirit help me assume innocent intentions on the part of those whose words upset or offend me. May I not only speak with love but show me how to listen with love as well.

Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. [1 Corinthians 13:7 (NCV)]

This does not mean that love is gullible, but that it does not think the worst (as is the way of the world). It retains its faith. Love is not deceived … but it is always ready to give the benefit of the doubt. [Leon Morris, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 13]

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