He left the his dishes on the table for the second time that week. I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks as I scrubbed the dishes. Does he even consider all the work I do all day? How hard is it for him to bring his dishes and stack them neatly on the counter? I scrubbed the plate harder. Does he think I’m his slave? My job is simply to go behind him all day picking up his mess? I pushed the next dish down to the bottom of the sink with a clang. The words were at the tip of my tongue. I mulled them in my mouth long enough to clean two more plates, and then let them out.
“You know, I would really appreciate it if you would show me some respect and pick up your dishes when you’re done at the table,” I said, with a little bite to my voice.
With our eight month old son on his hip, he turned to me. “Oh, I’m sorry dear. I didn’t even realize. Levi was crying, so I thought I’d just get him out of his seat and start playing with him in the living room and give you some time to yourself. I didn’t even think of the dishes.”
The anger that had rose up inside of me quickly slinked down into my stomach. Oh.
With the admonition to be slow to speak we should also remember, So be slow to assume. Based on one action, with no thought on the past, I had conjured up an assumption of my husband that was far from true. Offering no charity, I assumed the worst of my husband’s motives. Maybe it’s ironic and hypocritical, but I’m assuming I’m not the only one. I believe many of our conversations as believers would be much more edifying and our relationships much less tense if we lived by the phrase, “Love hopes all things,” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Our relationships within the church could be more unified if we remember the grace and charity we have been shown by Christ, who knew the depths and sins of our hearts, and seek to show charity to one another in our assumptions.
Think back to the last time you had to make an assumption. Was it the best case scenario or the worst? Some of us may have the tendency for assuming the worst in every situation and attributing people with the worst kind of motives. But if God has called us to hope the best in one another, not the worst, then this is a sinful tendency we need to squash.
Matthew Henry writes, commenting on 1 Corinthians 13:7,
“Charity believes and hopes well of others: Believeth all things; hopeth all things. Indeed charity does by no means destroy prudence, and, out of mere simplicity and silliness, believe every word, Prov. 14:15. Wisdom may dwell with love, and charity be cautious. But it is apt to believe well of all, to entertain a good opinion of them when there is no appearance to the contrary; nay, to believe well when there may be some dark appearances, if the evidence of ill be not clear. All charity is full of candour, apt to make the best of every thing, and put on it the best face and appearance. It will judge well, and believe well, as far as it can with any reason, and will rather stretch its faith beyond appearances for the support of a kind opinion; but it will go into a bad one with the upmost reluctance, and fence against it as much as it fairly and honestly can. And when, in spite of inclination, it cannot believe well of others, it will yet hope well, and continue to hope as long as there is any ground for it.”
Can this be said of us when making assumptions? Am I more willing to “stretch my faith” to believe well of another, or do I leap and bound to the worst, with little to no stretching? Do I always see the worst in my brothers and sisters? Do I have charity and love when considering the motives of another? Do my thoughts line up with Philippians 4:8, thinking on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise when considering my siblings of the faith? If not, my thoughts and assumptions lack charity and love.
When I am quick to assume the worst, I have forgotten the grace I was shown. God didn’t have to assume the worst of me—he knew the worst of me, the depths of my sin, when he chose me before the foundations of the world were set in place. He set his love on me, that when Christ died on the cross he died for my sins, and gave me the faith to believe and trust his atonement. God showed me grace when I was wicked, consumed with my sins and no thought of him. I am like the servant who could not forgive the lesser debt of his fellow servant, despite the greater debt he had been forgiven by his master. Though Christ has shown me more grace than I can comprehend, I withhold any grace and charity from my fellow believers—first in my thoughts, and then in my actions.
But what if we showed grace to one another like we have been shown, outdoing one another in honour, even in our thoughts? What misunderstandings could we avoid, what harsh judgments could be left unsaid and not conceived? What if we approached one another with honest, humble questions rather than accusations framed with our preconceived notions? What if we hoped for the best motives, the best intentions, in our brothers and sisters in Christ instead of straining to see the worst? This doesn’t mean being naïve, but showing charity in the way we think about one another.
Maybe this is what Peter meant by, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” (1 Peter 4:8). In my desire to assume the best of another, the small sins of another towards me are overlooked and covered, rather than racked up to be something greater than they were. Let’s toss poor assumptions, give some charity, stretch ourselves a little, and put grace on display.