Wise People Don’t Believe the Best About Everyone

by | Mar 29, 2022 | Discernment | 42 comments

“Debbie, thank you for your prayers. But we lost. Instead of looking at the man’s extensive record of abuse and drug addiction, the judge chose to believe the best. The man promised to do better, so the judge granted joint custody.”

Emotion choked me. How could this happen?

My years as a counselor opened my eyes to the lasting impact an abusive family holds over the children they raise. When adults use children as pawns to punish one another, the children suffer—sometimes for the rest of their lives.

Research shows childhood injuries can impact not only social and emotional health but also physical health. You can learn more about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) here.

But Jesus said, Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14 NASB).

Heart-broken parents have told me, “I didn’t think my parents would hurt their own grandchildren.” Yet those same parents abused the adults that sat before me when they were children. If they harmed their own child, why would they be different with their grandchild?

Discernment feels mean to some people. They don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. They think good people believe the best. Yet, that is not what Christ practiced.

Jesus cared more about a person’s eternal soul than their feelings. He never sacrificed the innocent to help a corrupt person feel better about themselves. He warned God’s people against their religious leaders.

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them’” (Matt. 23:1-3 NASB).

When a person speaks God’s truth, we follow the truth. But we separate the truth from the corrupt person. Just because someone says something that is right doesn’t mean we can trust them to live right.

Just because someone says something that is right doesn’t mean we can trust them to live right. #discernment #RefreshingFaith Click To Tweet

Jesus also warned the hypocritical leaders. J. Vernon McGee points out how Jesus used “scathing, biting, sarcasm.” Here’s a sample.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. …

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. …

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matt. 23:15, 27, 33 NASB).

Years after the phone call about losing full custody, the caller contacted me again. This time she was in tears. The impact of the judge’s foolish decree had played out on the child and family. They were ready to try again and prayed for a righteous judge. In other words, they were practicing biblical love which “always protects, … always perseveres” (1 Cor. 13:7 NIV).

We must stand against evil. We must fight to protect our children against wicked influences. Don’t believe the best because of what someone says. Watch what they do. Discernment is godly and good. Jesus practiced it and told us to also.

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” (Matt. 7:15-16 NASB).

Click here to comment.


Debbie Wilson

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InspireMeMonday, #InstaEncouraements, #TellHisStory and here #Recharge Wednesday, #Grace&Truth,

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  1. Yvonne Chase

    Thank you for writing this post. Abusers often use the line, “Love believes the best” when the victim sees who they are and is ready to walk away. I know for sure it was said to me by the narcissists in my FoO. Jesus used discernment and so do I because it’s a lifesaver that keeps me away from bad/abusive people. All people don’t have good intentions even those who call themselves Christians.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes they do, Yvonne. And, unfortunately, so do other misinformed people. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope others will take it to heart.

  2. Michele Morin

    This is hugely important. We can’t be Pollyanna-ish when children’s safety is at stake.

    • Debbie Wilson

      No we can’t. Thanks, Michele.

  3. Barbara Harper

    This is so important. So often I have seen the burden for a relationship placed on the abused, who are told they need to forgive. They do, but forgiveness doesn’t mean trust and lack of discernment. And the abuser, even if repentant, needs to own up to his sins and weaknesses and find accountability.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Barbara, that drives me crazy when I hear that. Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate the need to be wise and shrewd.

  4. Trudy

    This is so important, Debbie. It breaks my heart when children are left in abusive situations. I love what you say about discernment – “Don’t believe the best because of what someone says. Watch what they do. Discernment is godly and good. Jesus practiced it and told us to also.” Thank you for speaking out. Love and blessings to you!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Trudy. It breaks my heart too.

  5. Bev Rihtarchik

    The title of your post intrigued me. I was always one who believed the best about people — that is until they really proved me wrong. I stayed in an abusive marriage much longer than I should have. God gives us the Holy Spirit as our counselor to enable us to discern what is godly behavior/speech and what is not. People promise a lot of things with their lips which their actions don’t back up. Thanks for a perfect reminder as to why Biblical discernment is so important!
    Bev xx

    • Debbie Wilson

      Bev, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. We want to believe the words of people we’re tied to. But we must follow Jesus’ words.

  6. Marilyn

    Debbie, I think you summed it up on your last comment & that was
    to Follow Him – He will be our Wisdom & Discernment & will open & close doors in relationships. What a comfort!!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Following Him is always the best. Thank you, Marilyn!

  7. Joan Benson

    Very good, Debbie. This honest message needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

    Thanks for writing on this difficult topic.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Joan!

  8. Jan

    Graciously accept their words with hope, n then, yes indeed, pray for discernment.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes, we hope people will receive grace and change.

  9. Melissa Henderson

    I ask God to give me wisdom, discernment, and revelation every day in how He wants me to live for Him. Great message.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Good prayer, Melissa. Thank you.

  10. J.D. Wininger

    Great post Ms. Debbie. I’ve long believed in giving someone I meet for the first time an opportunity to prove they are who and what they say they are, but I’m realistically ‘guarded’ for a while as most prove me wrong. I’m always delighted when that doesn’t happen, but I remind myself of hard lessons learned from my past — man will ALWAYS fail you. Unless they have God in their hearts, then you can be assured that their true self will be revealed in short order. Give folks the opportunity to prove you wrong, but do so while protecting yourself and others. Great post ma’am.

    • Debbie Wilson

      J.D., that’s biblical wisdom at work. Thanks for sharing it.

  11. Donna B Reidland

    We have to read Scripture in light of other Scripture, don’t we? We can believe that God can change someone. We can forgive and pray for them without being foolish and doing all we can to protect ourselves and others from evil. A person who has really changed should understand the need for accountability, even consequences. I have seen some of the same things when it comes to our courts. Sometimes it seems as if common sense has gone out the window!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes it has, Donna. Breaks my heart. If a person has really changed, then they will want what is best for all involved and not be so self-centered.

  12. Tammy Kennington

    Hi Debbie,

    A friend of mine always says, “When a person shows you who she is, believe her.” Actions do speak louder than words.

    Christ commands forgiveness, but also requires us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom!


    • Debbie Wilson

      “When a person shows you who she is, believe her.” Wow, that is good. Thanks, Tammy.

  13. Peterson J Quiterio

    I agree to do what I am told in the scriptures and practice what I preach. May it be so in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

    • Debbie Wilson


  14. Ann J Musico

    Oh Debbie this is so important for us to understand! And protecting the children – always and first and foremost – especially in light of what we are seeing in the world today. For those who are of my generation and taught to always “be nice” this was something I had to relearn. I try never to be mean or hurtful – but to use my God-given discernment and make wise choices.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, you bring up a good point. What does it mean to be kind? Surely it means to tell the truth and walk as Jesus did. It’s not nice to ignore the real consequences of evil behavior.

  15. Jeanne Takenaka

    Deb, there is so much wisdom in your words. There have been times when I’ve struggled with the balance between believing the best about someone but being wary based on past experiences with them. I like what you said about separating the truth from the person. That makes a lot of sense.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Jeanne.

  16. PaulaShort

    Debbie, you sure spoke about the heart of the matter here. This needed to be said. I pray that God leads someone who needs to hear this message, to this message.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Me too. Thanks, Paula.

  17. Sylvia Schroeder

    “Just because someone says something that is right doesn’t mean we can trust them to live right.”
    It’s a hard truth and difficult to balance sometimes. I’ve seen the effects you’ve brought to light in your post through generations of some families, and it is tragic. Thanks Debbie.

    • Debbie Wilson

      It is tragic. Thank you, Sylvia.

  18. Annie Yorty

    Absolutely right, Debbie. I’ve just been studying some of those verses from Matthew. We are supposed to discern (make judgments) about the actions of people with regard to the influence we allow them to have in the lives of vulnerable people. Thank you for your insights.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Annie, I like the way you described that. “Discern (make judgments) about the actions of people with regard to the influence we allow them to have in the lives of vulnerable people. “

  19. Barb Hegreberg

    Situations like this can be heartbreaking. It can be hard to see those in authority as fallible human beings, and we expect them to make perfect decisions EVERY time! No one can live up to that.

    What we can do, is trust God to protect those who are not strong enough or old enough to take care of themselves.

    As I write this, we are waiting on a legal decision of our own that will affect our family for years to come.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Barb, may God grant you the desires of your heart and protect your family from evil. It helps to see how God used weak and evil rulers to accomplish is greater good through the apostle Paul.

  20. Cindy Davis

    So many truths in this post. We did foster care for 2 years, it was rewarding and heart-breaking. So many times the children go back into harsh conditions and it is so hard to let them go. I am thankful that God can use all things for the good of those who love Him.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Cindy, that is heartbreaking. Thank you for your gift to these children. As God was with Joseph in prison, we ask Him to be with those in these bitter places.

  21. Martin Johnson

    Great post, although not a popular perspective. I wonder what Jesus thinks about the fluffy feel-good only approach of the modern church?

    • Debbie Wilson

      Legalism and license, two pits we tend to swing between. Where the Spirit of the Lord is liberty, discernment, and righteousness.

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