Joe R. Price
Since love “thinks no evil” (keeps no accounts of evil, NKJV footnote), “rejoices in the truth” and “believes all things”, we rightly conclude the converse is true of hatred (1 Corinthians 13:5-7). Hate thinks evil of others (keeping an account of wrongs suffered), rejoices in the error of others and refuses to believe good things about others. It is no wonder that “he who does not love his brother abides in death” and, “whoever hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:14-15). Love refuses to hold and express evil suspicions toward others.
Evil suspicions (evil surmisings, KJV) are counted among the sins of the proud, possessed by those obsessed with disputes and arguments (1 Timothy 6:3-4). It is thinking the worst of others (often, deflecting attention away from one’s own sins). God will not tolerate such arrogant treatment of others, and neither should we. Therefore, the Holy Spirit instructs Christians to “withdraw yourself” from such people (1 Timothy 6:5).
We can get caught up in speculating about others. This typically leads to gossip and a variety of additional sins. Such speculation and ruinous reasoning is forbidden by the word of God. Let us carefully and correctly identify, put away and avoid the sin of evil suspicion.
1) Evil suspicions draw conclusions on the basis of conjecture and speculation. Whereas love rejoices in the truth and thinks the best of others, the sin of evil suspicions relies on assumptions and the reckless handling of facts. Because it relies on supposition and imagination to draw its conclusions, evil suspicion produces distrust and disputes. Once a person whose heart is full of evil surmising has made up his mind, it becomes very hard for him to reform and renounce his deeply held suspicion. Why? The reason is because pride (a companion of evil surmising) will not allow it (Proverbs 16:18). What a dreadfully ugly sin!
2) Evil suspicions spread contention and division where unity and peace should prevail. Christians are to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11). The gospel teaches us to “pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another”, a principle that is not being practiced by one given to evil suspicions (Romans 14:19). Having and acting upon an evil suspicion toward a fellow Christian spreads an atmosphere of mistrust, doubt and reservation, obscuring the unity we share in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-3).
3) Evil suspicions stifle encouragement. Christians should “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works”, but evil suspicion prevents this work of encouragement (Hebrews 10:24). It prevents productive communication instead of enhancing it. Barnabas showed himself to be the son of encouragement by not being suspicious toward Saul and his genuine conversion. He stepped forward and stood with his faithful brother in the Lord (Acts 4:36; 9:26-27). His example is one we all should follow.
4) Evil suspicions wound and ruin rather than soothe and heal. The person consumed with evil suspicions against another is not a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9). Strife and turmoil is the fruit he bears.
5) Put away evil suspicions. Cultivate love by always acting in the best interests of others – regardless of their words and deeds. (This is the true meaning and expression of love, Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10-11.) Judge righteously, not by appearance (John 7:24). Finally, reject baseless suspicions and charges against brethren (cf. 1 Timothy 5:19-20).