The Benefit of the Doubt

August 7, 2012

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Today I welcome Sam Werner to NoSuperheroes. Sam and his wife, Ana, have served in several missions organizations.  YWAM, IHOP, Iris Ministries, and Bethel Church in Redding, California are some of the places they’ve learned about missions and ministry.  God has used them in children’s ministry, technology, healing prayer, and in everything practical that comes along with ministry.  Their heart is to serve and see God move in the nations.
I want to believe in the goodness of human kind, that all people are honest, filled with good intentions, and never trying to take advantage of me.  I can be naive, I know.  This one phrase keeps running through my mind: the benefit of the doubt.

I bought a box of water from a shop in India a few months ago.  The shop owner told me it was 16 bottles for 15 rupees each.  I took his word for it.  I took the box of water home, opened it and it was not 16 bottles for 15 rupees each, it was 12 bottles for 12 rupees each.  He must have made a mistake.  I took a friend who could properly speak the language and my wife and I went to clear it up with him.  I began to ask him why he charged me so much.  He said he didn’t know the number of bottles in the box (it’s clearly written on the box).  We pressed him for the truth.  He said he couldn’t do the math, 12×12.  Not good enough.  We pressed him further.  He said he didn’t know the price.  I looked at my translator, she laughed.  She looked at me and said, “What shop keeper doesn’t know the prices of his own stuff?”

I still wanted to believe this man.  I really did.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

I have a neighbor and they have a dog.  This dog is big.  They tie the big dog up at night and all through the night it barks.  It’s tied just 15 feet away from our bedroom window.  It doesn’t make sleeping easy.  We pray for rain because they put the dog inside at night and finally, we get some sleep.  I saw them sitting around outside one day with their dog.  I told them that their dog, when tied up under our bedroom window, barks all night.  They quickly replied, “Oh, we keep our dog inside at night.  It’s not our dog.”

I really want to believe them.  I really do.  They can’t be lying to me, can they?  No, they can’t be lying.

It’s easy to get offended.  I could get angry.  I could go back and tell them I saw their dog barking in the night.  I could prove I’m right and they’re wrong.  I could do that, but taking it personal would be an open door for bitterness to walk right in.  I choose to forgive and I choose let it go.  Grace is so much easier.

Sam Werner

Now, since I asked them about their dog, we magically have no barking dog all night keeping us up.  It could be a coincidence, maybe they didn’t lie. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Sam shares more of his experiences on his website You can follow him on facebook,  twitter, or  google plus

What do you think? How does grace play into us giving people the benefit of the doubt? Are we “naive to believe in the goodness of human kind?” Let’s discuss and learn from each other!


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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God