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  • Henry Omotayo

Benefit of the Doubt

Acts 28:1-6

Message No. 0566 | Twitter @GodandUs |

It does not matter how much we believe in ourselves, we all have our problems, our faults and our biases. Sometimes because of our backgrounds, we are very quick to judge others and to conclude matters without knowing the details. We are told that perception is everything, but perception is often wrong. We assume things we don’t know, and we believe them to be the truth. I traveled to an African country few years ago and a driver came to the airport to pick me up. Since the driver did not know me, he carried a placard bearing my name. When I saw him and motioned to him that I was the person he came to pick, he looked at me, looked at my name, as if I was mistaken, and told me that he did not expect that a black man bore the name. He was so sure in his mind that he was at the airport to pick a Japanese guy and was looking for someone of Asian origin.

In Acts chapter 28, verses 1 – 6, Paul and his fellow travelers had just survived a shipwreck and were being shown kindness on the island of Malta. Because of the cold, a fire was started to keep them warm, and Paul gathered some sticks to put on the fire. As he did that, a snake not only bit him, but fastened itself on his hand as though it would eat part of his flesh. The islanders saw him and immediately concluded that Paul was a murderer and though he survived the shipwreck, his sins were so great that the serpent was there to deliver judgement to him. Quickly, they set their timeclock and determined the number of minutes remaining for him to fall down and die. When the number of minutes ran down and nothing happened to him, the Bible says that the islanders changed their minds and concluded that he was a god.

Things are not always what they seem, and this is the reason to always reserve judgement, especially when dealing with people with whom we have had no prior relationship. Running to quick judgment is always discouraged, though most people throw caution to the wind and cannot change their attitudes, but it is against such behavior that the benefit of the doubt was coined. What is the benefit of the doubt? I searched this out on the internet, and it could not have been better described. The Benefit of the Doubt is:

“the state of accepting something or someone as honest or deserving of trust even though there are doubts. He might be lying, but we have to give him the benefit of the doubt and accept what he says for now.”

This expression gives us a lot to think about. I know that we often think that we are perfect, and that others are at fault, but if anyone could point to a perfect human being for me, then I could easily point to the devil. It was because he thought he was perfect that he lost his position in God’s Kingdom. The next time you think you are perfect, just look at Peter. In Matthew 26:31-32, Jesus told His disciples:

“All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

He had barely finished speaking when Peter jumped out and said, not me; listen, Master, all of these your remaining disciples may run away but I, Peter, will rather die before I abandon you. Well, we all know how that ended. Peter not only denied Jesus, but he did it three times, including in the presence of a little girl.

We live in a world where many people ascribe the position of judges to themselves. Before you finish speaking, they say ‘I know where you are going, and you are wrong.’ Well, how did you know where I was going, some may ask. ‘I just know.’ The problem is, even when this attitude has been proven wrong on many occasions, it does not deter some people from continuing the behavior. The questions are: why do we always assume that we know? How would we feel if we are judged the same way as we judge others?

In Luke 6:3, Jesus told His disciples:

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Writing to the Corinthians in chapter 13 verse 7, Paul wrote that love bears all things and believes all things. So, the next time we try to write people off, we need to ask ourselves: is this a show of love or a show of hatred? If we believe the truth, that we are all fallible, are not perfect and are prone to errors, then our attitude, not only to other Christians but to all other people, should be restraint, learning to listen to the end, weighing matters properly and asking the Holy Spirit to help us interpret things. Even when we know of a certain that other people are wrong, yet we should exercise patience, knowing that but for the patience of our God, we would by now all be consumed. As we step out this week, may our God help us to exhibit the character of Christ in all our dealings and relationships, in Jesus mighty name. Amen. Have a blessed week!

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 If you are yet to give your life to Christ, you do not have a covenant with God and His promises do not apply to you. To come under these promises, please surrender your life to Christ today, by praying this prayer:
 Lord I know that I am a sinner and I am unable to save myself. I am sorry for my sins and I pray that you please forgive me. I am aware that Your Son Jesus died for my sins and I accept Him as my Lord and savior. I surrender my life unto you from this moment. Please take control of my entire being and help me to be obedient to your Word, going forward. Thank you, Lord, for hearing me. I have prayed in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 If you prayed the foregoing prayer, you have just been born again. Please find a Bible believing church in your area and ask to see the pastor. Let him or her know that you have just given your life to Christ and s/he will guide you on next steps in your journey as a child of God. The Lord bless you!
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