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Give People the Benefit of the Doubt
By Victoria Osteen - Nov 19, 2009
Life presents plenty of opportunities to become frustrated and upset if you allow it. There will always be people or incidences that open the door for offense. You may be tempted to blame others for your unhappiness—"Oh, I'm upset because that person was rude to me."  Or, "That person didn't treat me fairly."  But the truth is you are the only person who can determine your happiness. You have a choice. You can either choose to be offended, or you can choose to give people the benefit of the doubt and decide to overlook offenses.

It's easy to pick up offenses when you draw conclusions. For example, I have a friend who was supposed to meet another friend for lunch, but the woman never showed up and my friend wasn't able to reach her by phone. I saw my friend later that day, and I could tell she was upset about it. She thought the woman's actions were inconsiderate.  She told me, "I can't believe her! It's as if she doesn't think my time is as important as hers." The next day, my friend got a call from the woman she was supposed to have lunch with. "I'm so sorry!" she said. "Right as I was about to leave for our lunch appointment, I received a call that my mother was in a terrible car accident and rushed to the emergency room. I was so flustered I forgot to take my cell phone and figured I could call you from the hospital. But by the time I got there, I was so overwhelmed seeing my mother in such critical condition, talking to doctors, and watching monitors—I completely forgot!" My friend immediately forgave her and was so sorry for not giving her the benefit of the doubt.

It all comes down to this: If you want other people to give you grace, then you must choose to extend grace to other people. I love what author and speaker Tim Hansel often says, "Give people a break because everybody you meet today is carrying a heavy load."  And that's true. We don't know what people are dealing with in their personal lives, but we need each other to encourage and strengthen one another.

Today, don't allow offense to drive a wedge in your relationships. Assume the best of others and choose to give people the benefit of the doubt. Instead of drawing conclusions, always remember to keep your eyes on Jesus and give the people around you the same grace you receive from Him.

Love never gives up…doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others…puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end (Excerpt from I Corinthians 13, The Message).
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