May 19, Sunday

Today’s AMI Spiritual Food for Thought is provided by Jin Ha Lee who serves at Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia. Jin Ha, a CPA, graduated from Drexel University and got married to Aerin last November.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Giving the Benefit of the Doubt—a Loving Thing to Do”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Ephesians 4:1-3

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

In Matthew 22:39, Jesus makes it clear that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” However, we face conflicts everywhere, from work, family, friendships, and even church. When conflicts go long or deep, it’s easy for “loving one another” to take a backseat in our hearts. It can be especially challenging when conflicts arise in our church.

However, God teaches and equips us to combat division by showing us through these verses what love looks like. One practical way to show love is to give the benefit of the doubt. (v7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”)

During a conflict, a vulnerable area that the enemy attacks is our thoughts. When we begin to misinterpret the other person and question his or her intentions, it can begin to sow bitterness in our hearts. However, it is in those times that we need to prayerfully and consciously make a stand to say, “I will give this person the benefit of the doubt.” This protects our hearts against bitterness and removes the enemy’s foothold. When we give benefit of the doubt, it is a loving way to see others and disarms the disillusionment that the other person was out to “get us”.

I need to give the benefit of the doubt because I need it too. I can give mercy because I’ve been shown mercy. When God sees all that is in our hearts including our sin, He sees Jesus in us. Therefore, we can try to see Jesus in our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must remember that we are all a work-in-progress who are constantly loved by God.

It is a privilege to build up one another in this race of faith. So, let’s refocus on what God intended our church to be. We are a body of Christ that works together to build up one another with spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit distributed (1 Cor. 12). Love is the most excellent way.

There may be conflicts due to direct offenses that requires confrontation. This passage also teaches us that love is patient (v4), perhaps in timing and communication. Love perseveres through multiple hurtful conversations to reach mutual understanding and unity. But whether the situation gets resolved or not, we are “…bearing with one another in love…” out of love for Jesus and His precious church.

Are you experiencing conflict? Let’s bring it before the Lord and pray for wise counsel. Even when our love has run out, the Lord has an infinite amount of steadfast and unfailing love waiting to cover us.

Prayer: Lord, You love us and Your church so much. God, though we come across conflict, please give us humility, gentleness, and patience to bear with one another in love. Please touch our hearts so that we can respond with Spirit filled love, to see our own faults, to confess, to forgive, to reconcile, and to run together as a church for You. Thank You that there will be one day when we will be in heaven, fully reconciled, and enjoy perfect fellowship with You and each other.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 8.

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