In 1860, Thomas Inman recommended that his fellow doctors not prescribe a medicine for a cure if they weren’t sure it would work. They were to give the patient “the benefit of our doubts.” This phrase is also a legal term meaning that if a jury has conflicting evidence that makes the jurors doubtful, they are to give the verdict of “not guilty.”
Perhaps as Christians, we can learn from and apply this medical and legal phrase to our relationships. Better yet, we can learn from the Bible about giving the benefit of the doubt to others. First Corinthians 13:7 says that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Leon Morris, in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, says this about the phrase “believes all things”: “To see the best in others . . . . 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.”
When we hear something negative about others or we’re suspicious about the motive for their actions, let’s stop before we judge their intentions as wrong or bad. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.