Wednesday, 17 February 2016
Benefit of the Doubt - What if It’s not What I Think!
A portion from our book, "Unknotted", to be released on Monday, March 28, 2016 in Ijebu-Ode. Be blessed
How can I handle evidences that look so real as to putting pressure on me to make damning conclusions about people’s actions?
I was in my car driving to a ministration when God dropped this burden on me. It started with a practical illustration and a personal example. I began imagining what would be going through the mind of someone who entered my car and saw the jacket of the CD selection I was playing. The music was gospel. But the jacket was an antithesis. A half-nude singer and some faces that are anything but gospel artistes complete the jacket graphics. In fact the vendor had to thoroughly convince me that what was inside was gospel music before I could pick it up; many potential Christian buyers who had come before me could not be convinced because of the jacket. I needed the music selection badly, coupled with the fact that the gospel lyrics can be seen on the inside of the jacket, so I bought the CD. I may not be right in buying it. But someone who enters my car, sees the jacket and concludes that I listen to unchristian music will definitely not be right as well. That is what we are saying: many times, false evidences appear real. So, we need to watch our steps before jumping to conclusion. Yes, the person may not be acting right in coming near the appearance of evil (I Thess.5:22), but two wrongs can never make a right – our wrong judgment can never right the wrong. Here are few things to ponder on before we make the vital conclusion:
1. Tract Record of the Person – sometimes, it will do a lot of good to consider the antecedent of the person in question. What has been the testimony of this ‘potential offender’? Then, you will be able to decide whether this singular act, of which even the details are sketchy, is strong enough to perish the track record. Consider Jesus! How would you feel, someone you know to be a prostitute rubbing Jesus’ feet with perfume? I know you won’t feel anything untoward because you know Jesus too well; not even a scruple of such feeling will cross your mind. But the Pharisee that hosted him when it happened did not have such knowledge, so he judged Jesus wrongly (Luke 7:34 – 39). When not certain, the first impulse should be, ‘What is his track record?’
2. Abnormal Use of an Object – someone says, abuse is a contraption for ‘abnormal use’. Wrong conclusions, many times, emanate from putting articles to a use different from what they are meant for. A good example is using a beer bottle to store kerosene or selling groundnut in whisky bottle. One question that anyone who wants to be certain must ask himself: ‘Is there any other use this object can be put to, or is known to be put to, in this environment other than its original purpose?’ That you see an empty whisky bottle in a brother’s house therefore should not make you jump on the next cab to go and tell pastor that he is taking alcohol. Giving him a benefit of the doubt requires you asking yourself question like, ‘Could it be the whisky bottle he bought groundnut in?’
Imagine you passed through the field and saw Shamgar holding an ox-goad. What would you tell the people at home? That Shamgar was ploughing with the oxen. Wrong! Rather, he was making war with the ox-goad. It was an abnormal use but that is the truth – Judges 3:31.
3. Sincere Oversight – I read a weird case study over the internet. Let me render my own version of it for the purpose of this discourse. A pastor was undressing in his room when he heard the sudden scream of the house-help. Without thinking he rushed out to help. The house-help’s wrapper was in flame. The pastor immediately yanked off the wrapper from her as she fell to the ground with a sharp thud. After putting the fire out of the wrapper, he drew near to help up the house-help who by now has been further weakened by the fall. Just then, the kitchen door opened, and standing at the door was…the wife. Alas, the pastor and the house-help were both naked! Many interesting comments will pour in if this were to be a post on facebook. That I know. But let us save that for another day and let me quickly pinpoint a gross oversight on the part of the two persons involved. The pastor should have had at least something in the name of a cloth on before rushing out. And the house-help erred by having only wrapper on, without any underwear, in another person’s matrimonial home. Some little things we overlook can cause us a big headache – little foxes destroy the vine. But the oversight notwithstanding, the wife would still have been wrong concluding that her husband is having an affair with the house-help. So, next time someone displays an annoying oversight, don’t be too harsh, we are all prone to overlooking some things; although there are things we must never overlook...
4. Cultivating A Loving Spirit – So far, we have proved that people can be so sincere in what they do. They may not know or notice that, though sincere, they are sincerely wrong. So, after all said and done, people can be wrong or do wrong things. But what we are imbuing in us is learning to disabuse our mind from casting a suspicious glance on everything and everyone. We must not always be on the lookout for someone to crucify. It is an attitude deeply rooted in judgmental spirit. And the scripture says,
Judge not…Matt. 7:1
We must endeavour to confirm all the details, if need be, before drawing any conclusion,
But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast -1Th 5:21 AMP
The proving is not for the purpose of crucifying the person as I earlier said but with the purpose of correcting him in love. Love will only make a cane out of the fault to correct and not a cross out of it to crucify. Don’t hold on to the fault as a constant weapon for cheap blackmail or a perpetual tool to display superiority complex. This is one of the practical meanings of the scriptural saying, ‘Love covers multitude of sins’. Even God will chastise us mainly with the purpose of correcting us in love.