One of my favorite teachings on love is the sermon “The Greatest Thing in the World” by Henry Drummond. He first gave this sermon in the late 1800’s. It has been printed and reprinted many times and is widely available. I highly recommend getting a copy and reading it, rereading it and studying it, until its message becomes a part of your life.
In this sermon, Henry Drummond is expounding on the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, otherwise known as the chapter on love. In an earlier post I listed the facets of love (agape) taken from Henry Drummond’s sermon. They are:
Patience – “Love suffereth long”; Kindness – “And is kind”; Generosity – “Love envieth not”; Humility – “Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up”; Courtesy – “Doth not behave itself unseemly”; Unselfishness – “Seeketh not her own”; Good Temper – “Is not easily provoked”; Guilelessness – “Thinketh no evil”; Sincerity – “Rejoiceth not in inquity, but rejoiceth in the truth”.
In this sermon, Henry Drummond goes on to expound on each of these in the most beautiful and enlightening way. Today I want to focus in on one of my favorite sections. It’s his discussion of guilelessness.
Guilelessness is the grace for suspicious people. And the possession of it is the great secret of personal influence. You will find, if you think for a moment, that the people who influence you are people who believe in you. In an atmosphere of suspicion men shrivel up; but in that atmosphere they expand, and find encouragement and educative fellowship.
It is a wonderful thing that here and there in this hard, uncharitable world there should still be left a few rare souls who think no evil. This is the great unworldliness. Love “thinketh no evil,” imputes no motive, sees the bright side, puts the best construction on every action. What a delightful state of mind to live in! What a stimulus and benediction even to meet with it for a day!
To be trusted is to be saved. And if we try to influence or elevate others, we shall soon see that success is in proportion to their belief of our belief in them. For the respect of another is the first restoration of the self-respect a man has lost: our ideal of what he is becomes to him the hope and pattern of what he may become. ~ Henry Drummond
I once attended a John Maxwell leadership conference at my church. During one of the breaks my volunteer assistant (and friend) came to me and said she thought I must have already taken the conference, because I was leading the team the very way John Maxwell recommended. Then she laughed and said, “But I knew you’d probably say you got it from the Holy Spirit.”
She was right I hadn’t taken the conference before. I lead people the way the Holy Spirit instructs me to. Only He knows their hearts and only He knows the way to their hearts. He always leads me to lead by love. And one of the most beautiful ways He has me lead people is by believing the best of them.
I’ve rarely (I can only think of one time) ever had to correct a person on one of my teams. I have believed the best of them and they were aware of it and they have changed. Just having someone believe in them and expect the best of them, gave them the hope and the grace to change.
It reminds me of the scripture in Isaiah 38:17 (Amplified), “You have loved back my life…” Many people have been told what their problem is and what their weaknesses are, but people need someone to tell them, “I believe in you”. When someone will love and believe the best of them a highway is made for them to follow and come up higher.
(A little confession: I need to remember this at home more often. To my husband, Forgive me.)