Attributing good motives
My human instinct is to want to shout to the world how wrong a person is, rather than go to him alone and gain a brother--or simply keep my disagreement to myself, if the situation warrants. If he demonizes me, or attributes bad motives to me, I am certainly not likely to learn much from his advice or wisdom--which might otherwise be quite beneficial to me. I ought to apply the Golden Rule and treat him with the same good assumptions about his intent to do what is right.
This is one of the things that went terribly wrong in Christian circles during the 1900s. There was a great religious awakening in America during the 1800s, but people turned their guns on their brethren and fought amongst themselves. I have a large stack of various religious newsletters from the 60s and 70s, and many of them contain serious personal attacks on the motivations of fellow believers. I don't attribute bad motives to these editors and writers. I know they were doing what they thought was right, and perhaps they grew out of their ways later in life. I know I would hate to be judged by things I said and did years ago.
But it's amazing how much we can accomplish in shining the light of Christ and edifying one another by simply acknowledging the fact that the Lord judges the heart of man so that we don't have to.
- 1 Corinthians 4:5 - Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God. (NKJV)
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