1 Corinthians 13:6-7
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Trust is the foundation of every relationship and in this cynical world of suspicion and mistrust Paul reminds us of love’s ability and responsibility to trust. As we evaluate people, love gives the benefit of the doubt because love leans on trust. Love considers a person innocent until proven otherwise even in a mistrusting and sinful world. Hatred always leaps to the conclusion that the worst-possible explanation must be the correct one, it always finds a reason to mistrust, to see everything in the worst possible light. In contrast Love leaps to the conclusion that the person loved is in the right; love choses to see things through the light of trust and the most favorable explanation. Love seeks the truth but it trusts through the process and Love welcomes the idea that a person is better than we thought, more blameless than expected. Love always roots for the relationship over our rights and errs on the side of trust. A spirit of mutual trust needs to flow through the family because it is the indispensable ingredient for unity.
In every relationship there are expectations and then there’s what we actually experience. Here’s what you said you would do, here’s what I experienced that you did, here’s what time you said you would be home, this is what time you actually got home. Here’s the list we agreed on, here’s the part of the list you didn’t do. Have you ever experienced the gap, the gap between what we expect and what we experience? When faced with the gap between what was promised and what actually happened, Love looks for the most generous explanation for others behavior. Love says before I jump to conclusions what other possibilities are there, it is willing to look for a generous explanation. Love not only chooses trust over suspicion but it chooses to put something in the gap, and that’s the key, we decide what goes in the gap. Others may have created a gap with their behavior but it is us who must decide what goes in the gap. The problem is we don’t believe this, you see in the midst of the experience we think, No, we don’t decide what goes in the gap, they have decided what goes in the gap, because they said 8:00. I hear the garage door opening at 10:00, so they have now forced me to assume the worst. Do you want to be free, then believe the truth and here it is, others don’t control what you put in this gap. Love does everything it can to protect the integrity of that relationship, so love goes out of its way to believe the best. That means that love isn’t trying to catch somebody doing something wrong with that Aha, I knew it! I knew you were going to do that, I knew you were going to be late. I knew you were going to mess up the budget, I knew you weren’t going to give me credit for that. Have you ever noticed how much effort we put into being the private eye in relationships? How we put our effort into catching others doing the wrong thing, but have you ever asked why, it’s because we don’t trust. Paul says that’s not how love operates, instead Love looks for opportunities to catch people doing the right thing.
Love is willing to bend, love leans into, love is always looking for an opportunity to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. So consequently, it’s always trying to protect the integrity of the relationship, even when it requires a lot of the work. Because what happens when love doesn’t trust, suspicion creeps in. Consider Job’s “friends”, they turned on him because their love was void of trust. When they saw the fix that he was in, their first instinct was to assume the worst about him. They assumed as some do today that God is a celestial vending machine, if you put enough in and your bills are neat and crisp instead of crumpled you will get a blessing out, if not, you get cursed. In Jesus’ day people were plagued with the same kind of thinking, remember the blind man that Jesus healed, what did the people want to know, they wanted to know who had sinned that he was born blind, the man or his parents. Because bad things were happening to Job, his “friends” jumped to the conclusion that Job was doing all kinds of sinful stuff. As a result they condescendingly lectured him instead of listening to him and that’s not love. Why do we need Trusting Love, because it helps us not to writing people off, is there anyone that you have written off? Now, we need to know that Love does not equal gullibility; this is not a call for the suspension of common sense, or of sound judgment. It is not a call to knowingly walk into an ambush and it must be balanced with prudence and discernment. Love doesn’t give the benefit of the doubt when there is no doubt, and it doesn’t demand an unreasonable trust when trust has been destroyed. But when trust is broken, not if but when, love’s instinct is to heal and restore, love is quick to give the benefit of the doubt to the person who evidences repentance and a true desire to change.