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Friday, August 21, 2015

Benefit of the Doubt

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NLT).

Nothing has the power to create emotional turmoil as something that happens between friends who do not speak openly and honestly with each other about their feelings. Friendship is a gift, but it is a gift which requires work. If anything has any value, it is worth hard work. This work can be painful. It can be sacrificial, and sometimes brutally honest. Friendship that endures Satan's lies and life's pressures is a friendship that has been fired in the kiln of life and stands strong. Friendship requires more than just one person working at it. Just one person trying to bridge a gap will never make a difference. Two need to share their feelings; two need to lay down their preconceptions; two need to be willing to listen. A friendship is only worth how much two people will work at it. If it lies dormant, that friendship will die. Open, honest, and even painfully alive at times, that friendship can thrive. Real friends can share how they feel about an issue or something that has happened because they want to understand the reason.

Perhaps you feel betrayed by someone you believe is your friend. Do you actually know if someone has betrayed you or do circumstances appear that they have? Has another person said something that makes you believe your friend has turned against you? If you heard that your friend has done or said something, there is a possibility that they might not have done what you have heard. Why would you immediately believe something over the character of your friend? In any situation such as this, never assume. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt. Always ask. Don't allow hurt to turn into bitterness because you never ask. Don't allow a wall to grow. In openness and sharing, without anger and harsh words, many times issues can be resolved. Remember always that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Here is what is hard, but it is so necessary for our spiritual survival, and our peace in this life. Forgiveness is necessary. It is God's requirement. It means laying down feelings and listening. It means a willingness to face the hurt in order to understand. You might discover that what you thought happened never happened. You might discover that the friend you thought had betrayed you actually defended you. You might discover there was a reason for something that you never knew about. Make an effort to bridge the gap. You gain nothing if you don't try. If after discussing things with your friend, you still believe that a betrayal really happened, then what are you going to do with it? Forgiveness is still what is needed for your heart to be set free from its hurt. Without forgiveness you will forever be in bondage to your pain. Paul says that we are to be kind and tenderhearted toward each other, forgiving each other as Jesus Christ forgave us. Jesus came to offer us the greatest forgiveness. If we believe in Him, then forgiveness should always reign in our heart over any anger or hurt. God created us to be forgiven. He gave His life to forgive you and to forgive me. Forgiveness flows from Calvary. Without forgiveness, alive and free, you will never survive. With it in your heart, Christ's love will flow continually setting you free to experience a joyful life.

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