Can We Give People The Benefit Of The Doubt More Often?

That scene which played out today was just like the one see in movies.  I am at the Shell gas station, right next to ABC News.  I am trying to quickly fill up my tank because I am already running behind for a shoot out of town.

From the corner of my eye, I see a guy walking up to me. And I try not to make eye contact. But then I do.  “Ma’am, would you be able to buy me a gallon of gas? My card is not working.”

At first I said no. I only had a credit card and I wasn’t about to leave my SUV and walk over to his car. It was daylight. But remember, I was a crime reporter for a decade in Charlotte and Atlanta. I saw too much. And remember too much.

He thanks me anyway and starts to walk away. Right then, I remembered I had a $5 bill in my wallet.  I rarely carry cash, so I even surprised myself with the revelation.  I yelled out for the guy and he turned around. I handed him the 5 bucks, he smiled, and went on his way.

My first thought … maybe that was a mistake? Maybe he is going to use that money to buy cigarettes? What if he is on drugs and is lying about the gas? Or maybe he is a professional con artist just bumming money off a female, knowing women tend to help when they can.

But then the voice of the skeptical reporter went away and it was replaced with another, more gentle voice. What if that guy was telling the truth? What if he was just trying to get to work and needed the gas. The scenario played out in my mind. If he missed work, he might loose his job.  Or maybe he wasn’t going to work at all.  Maybe he was enroute to visit a sick friend. Maybe he had a bad day and was dealing with personal issues at home.  Maybe he was embarrassed to even ask for the money, but felt desperate and alone. It could have been a million things and the truth.

So I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  I chose to believe the best case scenario instead of the worst.  It made me think, how awesome would our world be if we could just give other humans the benefit of the doubt. If we assume people are telling the truth, instead of lying, how would that grow our own heart? If we assume people have good intentions, instead of evil ones, how would that soften our own jaded edges?  I am not saying to be naive, because there are still plenty of people in the world who prey on kind souls.  I am simply saying every now and then, just give another human the benefit of the doubt. It may help you just as much as it helps them.

Sometimes, people just need a win. One win.



  1. Jennie
    July 12, 2019 / 2:21 pm

    We don’t have to be accountable for others, only for our actions. God knows our heart

    • nicoleallshouse
      July 30, 2019 / 4:49 am

      Amen Jennie! God knows our heart and how blessed we are that He gives us grace, time and time again.

  2. July 12, 2019 / 6:01 pm

    Our pastor reminds us frequently that if God lays it on your heart to help someone and you obey, then your job is done. How that person uses your help is irrelevant. You did what God asked you to do. I have to remind myself of this if my mind tries to go ” judgey” me.

    • nicoleallshouse
      July 30, 2019 / 4:46 am

      Hi Jan! We all can rush to judgement – but you are correct, it’s not really OUR JOB to judge!

  3. July 12, 2019 / 6:15 pm

    You’re a better person than I am. I would have said no. I’ve seen that con used too many times.

    • nicoleallshouse
      July 30, 2019 / 4:45 am

      Hi Syl! It may have been a con. But it may not have been a con. I’ll leave that between him and God. Besides, giving away the money prevented me from buying a soda, which I didn’t need anyway. 🙂

  4. Jo
    July 12, 2019 / 10:51 pm

    I love this! Yes, we all need to give others a little grace and assume the best of each other. I’m so guilty of quickly assuming the worst. I wasn’t always this way. In my younger years I had a much softer heart towards others. Is it that I’ve grown bitter or that the world demands skepticism, I’m not sure. I do know though that it feels so good to give someone a smile, a kind word, or any kind of help. To know that I’ve made a small difference makes it all worth it! Bless you!

    • nicoleallshouse
      July 30, 2019 / 4:43 am

      You make great points, Jo. And you are right – it is never too late to offer a smile or kind word. Life can be hard for us all, so a soft heart can make a difference.

  5. Clif Payne
    July 13, 2019 / 3:02 pm

    While it is true that the world is full of conniving deceitful people, sometimes it is good to remember that all people were created in the image of God. The ancient sages say that, “the righteous are not totally righteous and the wicked are not totally wicked.” It is good to remember that we are all fallible individuals and as such sometimes are in need of mercy and forgiveness. As the Psalmist says of God, “with the merciful you will show yourself merciful.” Who knows what a single act of kindness and mercy may do? You act of kindness may have been the result of the ruse of a con man or it may be that one thing that truly helped a needy individual and restored their faith in mankind. We may never know but sometimes a simple act of kindness and mercy, that actually costs us so little, can have far reaching results. As the LORD said, “Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in … Assuredly I say to you inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it unto Me.”

    • nicoleallshouse
      July 30, 2019 / 4:41 am

      I love your heart, Clif! Amen to the image of God. We are all sinners and need grace and love!

  6. Alice
    July 30, 2019 / 2:41 pm

    Hi Nicole, I just read this and I would have gone through the same thought process you did and in the end, given him what I could. Whatever he/she does with the money is between them and God.

    • nicoleallshouse
      August 22, 2019 / 2:38 am

      Alice! You never know what to do ….so when in doubt, my mama always says ….just do the right thing! Thank you so much for reading. I just wrote another article tonight about my grandparents being married for 69 years …i hope you can read it!

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