What Does It Mean?
“Believing the best” is a term many Christians are familiar with, but may not have taken the time to truly contemplate. It’s heard floating around in church, even spoken from the pulpit, but what does it actually mean?
Believing the best is so much more than simply believing good things about other people. Reducing it to such a simplistic and generalized definition minimizes the powerful life transformation it can add to your life. When you truly believe the best of every person in your life, it shifts your perspective and pumps new life into your relationships. You’ll experience so much more joy, even when encountering tasks and responsibilities you used to dislike.
Corinthians Holds the Key
1 Corinthians is where you can find the famous chapter on love, and we will be taking a portion from that powerful passage to break down exactly what it means to believe the best. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
We will be separating these verses line by line as each contains a piece of the puzzle for believing the best. As you read, take a moment to meditate on each point to see if there is a person about whom, or area in your life where you should be believing the best.
Love is Patient
This might seem simple, but a lack of patience actually reveals a “me vs we” mentality. When you are impatient, you are focusing on yourself and your own needs, not those of the other person towards whom your annoyance is directed.
Love is Kind
We are called to be kind not only in our actions toward others, but also in our thoughts. It’s hard to want to be nice to someone when you constantly focus on what you don’t like about them. Instead, find things to like and give them a compliment. You might even find that they aren’t the person you thought initially.
It is Not Jealous
Jealousy actually stems from a lack of trust in God’s provision. When we pine after what God has blessed others with, we are actually telling Him that we don’t believe that He will meet those same needs in our own lives. We will discuss believing the best about God more below.
Love Does Not Brag
Jesus commanded us to walk in humility. This doesn’t mean thinking or speaking badly of ourselves, but having an “others first” mindset. We should not seek our own acclamation but instead look for ways to encourage, honor, and bless others.
It is Not Arrogant
Humility also means knowing that without God, we can do nothing. It is not our own ability that causes us to succeed and be blessed in our lives, but God working on our behalf. This knowledge is not meant to make us feel useless, but to empower us! If God is working on our behalf, He will not fail. Our success doesn’t depend on us!
It Does Not Act Disgracefully
To disgrace someone is to shame or discredit them. It is not our responsibility to make sure someone else gets the punishment we believe they deserve. God causes all things to work out for our benefit, so it is better to release that person in our minds, walk in forgiveness, and trust God with the outcome.
It Does Not Seek Its Own Benefit
When we walk in an “others first” mindset, we will naturally seek out ways to serve. Maybe that means letting someone in front of you in line, or staying late after church to help stack chairs. Getting our own needs met should not be our first priority.
It is Not Provoked
This one may come more easily to some than others, but no one is immune to being annoyed or even angered by others from time to time. It’s important to remember that we are called to pursue peace with everyone, so the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, or gossips about you behind your back, take a deep breath, forgive them, and let it go.
Does Not Keep an Account of a Wrong Suffered
Holding a grudge is not Biblical. We have received unconditional and complete forgiveness from God for every sin we will ever commit. We must offer the same to others, even for repeated or remorseless offenses. This may seem impossible sometimes, but God promises to give us the grace to do it.
It Does Not Rejoice in Unrighteousness
When something inconvenient or unfortunate happens to someone we dislike, that should not be our cue to throw a little celebratory party in our heads. God calls us to offer compassion to everyone, even if they don’t deserve it.
But Rejoices with the Truth
Another interpretation of this could be, “pursues holiness.” Our thought life influences so many other areas of our life. After salvation, we are called to renew our minds by spending time in God’s Word. If you are having trouble avoiding unholy things in your thought life, audit what you’re feeding on in your day-to-day life. It may be time to make a change.
It Keeps Every Confidence
This means that we are trustworthy. If someone shares something private with you, it is your responsibility to keep that to yourself unless you have explicit permission to share it with others. This includes gossiping, talebearing, and also disguising it as a request for prayer on their behalf.
It Believes All Things
This does not mean that we are gullible and will believe anything anybody tells us. This is our Biblical command to believe the best.
Hopes All Things
Our hope should always be in God. Even in seasons so tough that we can’t imagine ever reaching the other side, we have to hold onto the knowledge that He is good and has a plan to prosper us, not to harm us. No matter what the situation, He will always make sure our needs are met and we are ultimately blessed through it.
Endures All Things
This goes hand in hand with hoping all things. During those hard seasons, we may find it hard to even get out of bed in the morning. But God has promised to be our strength when we feel we can’t go on – we need to reach out to Him in those moments and find our rest in His presence.
Don’t Feel Overwhelmed
Now, reading all these points may feel overwhelming. You may be thinking, “How am I supposed to keep track of all these things in order to believe the best?” The good thing is, you don’t have to! Believing the best is not about following a checklist in order to receive blessings. It adds freedom to our lives, not bondage.
The core of believing the best comes from treating others how Jesus would treat them, as in John 15:12.
This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
Jesus’s love is not dependent on our behavior, or whether He feels like loving us that particular day. He loves us powerfully and completely, all day every day. His abundant grace covers us inside and out, and will never run out no matter what. Now, in our limited human flesh, we are not capable of extending that same grace to others, but as we are completed and holy in Him, He enables us to truly love others unconditionally.
The Ways of the World
Believing the best takes discipline. Our flesh will not naturally want to treat others as we would want to be treated. It takes us some practice to get into the habit, and we may still find ourselves falling back into that fleshly mindset if we are not intentional with our thoughts and actions. Proverbs 4:23 says,
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
If we regularly consume worldly media, even if it seems harmless on the surface, we are sowing seeds into our hearts. Social media, television, movies, and other sources contain the world’s wisdom and the world’s way of addressing people we butt heads with. When we do not combat those lies with Godly wisdom found in His Word, those seeds take root and influence our thought and behavior patterns.
For example, say you have a coworker who is after the same promotion as you. One day you discover that they have been badmouthing you to your manager. Naturally, you feel hurt and upset. You find that you no longer enjoy working with them every day and just passing them in the hallway leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You find yourself in a bad mood more often than not and your other coworkers have started to avoid you.
By the world’s wisdom, you must get justice for yourself. They have hurt you, so you must get them back – maybe you start badmouthing them back, or even go to HR and try to get them fired. However, as Christians, we are called to be like our Father, Who says in Isaiah 55:8,
‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.
God’s ways are different than the ways of the world. Just as God has given us His grace, so must we extend that same grace to others. Instead of retaliating against your coworker, you would walk in forgiveness towards them. Instead of focusing on how you are hurt, you would focus on why they felt they had to act against you in order to get ahead. Perhaps they are one rent payment from losing their home, or can’t afford to buy their children new clothes, and need the pay increase that comes with that promotion. You would look for ways to be a blessing to them, and as you proved yourself faithful in following Jesus’s example, He would ensure that your own needs are met in the meantime.
Believing the Best Does Not Mean Ignoring the Truth
Believing the best is not the same as lying to yourself about reality. It’s about recognizing that there is always more going on than we perceive on the surface, and assuming the worst, even if it feels just in the moment, leads to misunderstandings, damaged relationships, and hurt people.
We don’t have to rely on the wisdom of the world to navigate situations and relationships. God has given us a Helper Who sees more than we ever could. Isaiah 11:2 says,
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
We have the same Holy Spirit as Jesus did when He walked on the earth. We can walk in that same wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. That takes the pressure off of us to figure out the best way to approach a difficult situation. God has already outlined how we are called to treat people in His Word and also gave us His Holy Spirit to guide us in the moment. All we have to do is listen and act according to His guidance.
What If They Don’t Deserve It?
You may be thinking, “That’s all well and good, but you don’t know this person I have in my life. They are just the worst and constantly go out of their way to hurt me.”
Well, you’re right. I don’t know what you may be dealing with, but I do know that just as God’s grace doesn’t change based on how we act, so also should our grace towards others be constant. That is a tough pill to swallow and may be the last thing you want to do when you encounter this person. But it all comes back to treating people how Jesus would. Even as He was being crucified – undergoing the most painful and agonizing death in history, being beaten, whipped, and nailed to a cross by the very people He came to save – He prayed on the behalf of His tormentors, as it says in Luke 23:34,
But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing His garments among themselves.
Remember His sacrifice when this person acts against you. It could be that your compassion and grace towards them will change their heart, but even if it doesn’t, your response should be the same. God is on your side and will never leave you alone in this situation. Lean on Him for strength and wisdom and He will work out all things for your benefit.
Believing the Best About Yourself
Honestly, this topic is so important it should be an entire blog on its own. So many people, male and female, have such negative and destructive beliefs about themselves, and the messages the world perpetuates about what beauty, health, and success look like only reinforce their bondage.
If that is you today, if you harbor dislike or even hatred towards yourself for what you look like, mistakes you’ve made in the past, or anything else, know that God does not see you that way. You are His beloved child, whom He hand-crafted with the utmost care. Psalm 139:13-14 says,
For You created my innermost parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
You are so precious to Him. He loves you with such a fierce and never-ending love that our human minds can’t even comprehend it. Nothing you can do will ever cause Him to love you a single ounce less and He will always fight for you no matter what.
Believing the best about yourself means seeing yourself as God sees you. You are not worthless. You are not ugly. You are not a failure. Let God break the chains binding you to these lies and step into the freedom we have in Christ.
Begin this exercise today. When you stand in front of the mirror in the morning, instead of focusing on your flaws, your stretch marks, your gray hairs, your scars, your anything you don’t like about yourself, look yourself in the eyes and say, “God loves me. He sent His Son to die for me. I am worthwhile. I am valuable. I have the mind of Christ. I am blessed. I am free in Him. I am successful. I am unconditionally loved.”
Combat the lies of the devil with the truth of God’s Word. Spend time learning about who God says you are. As you read all these wonderful promises, it may not seem real, but know that every word is true. And if it’s true, then you should believe it.
Believing the Best About God
In times of trouble, our faith is tested. When a new bill shows up suddenly which we didn’t budget for, when our car gets totaled and it’s our only transport to work, when a loved one suddenly falls ill and the doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong, those are the moments when we are most tempted to doubt God’s character and provision.
The enemy strikes when we are weakest to fill our hearts with doubt. He wants us to feel isolated, helpless, and victimized. We find ourselves asking, “Where are you, God? Do you even care about what’s happening right now?” Even those closest to Jesus have felt this way, as revealed in Mark 4:37-40,
And a fierce gale of wind developed, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling with water. And yet Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’
They asked Jesus, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Of course He cared. He just wasn’t worried. When we are in the midst of a storm and feel like our boat is going to sink, it feels like the end of the world from our perspective. To God, however, there is no cause for alarm. He already knows how He’s going to get you through to the other side. He is relaxed and ready to come to your aid the second you ask.
In our limited view, it may seem like He isn’t moving. You may have been waiting for a solution for weeks, months, or even years. We want Him to fix our problem instantly, but as Isaiah 55:8 says, His ways are not our ways. As He is perfect, so is His timing perfect. Our job is just to trust in Him no matter what and believe Him when He says that He is good and He will always provide for His beloved children. When you do this, you will find that He will never let you down.
Meditate on this verse today as you look for ways you can start believing the best in your life.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also. In addition to all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.