September 22, 2008

Bearing with the Faults of Others

Thomas à Kempis,
The Imitation of Christ

Until God ordains otherwise, a man ought to bear patiently whatever he cannot correct in himself and in others. Consider it better thus—perhaps to try your patience and to test you, for without such patience and trial your merits are of little account. Nevertheless, under such difficulties you should pray that God will consent to help you bear them calmly.

If, after being admonished once or twice, a person does not amend, do not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God that His will and honor may be furthered in all His servants, for God knows well how to turn evil to good. Try to bear patiently with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever they may be, because you also have many a fault which others must endure.

I find that when someone rubs me the wrong way, I put them on a blacklist in indelible ink. I find it very hard to get past my early impressions of this person. I hold them to an unattainable standard and tend to point to every fault and say, "see, I told you."

But I know that I rub people the wrong way at times. And I certainly don't want for them to put my name on a blacklist for all of eternity, no matter what I do to try to make amends.

The passage from Thomas à Kempis quoted in the callout box to the right brought this to the forefront of my mind today. This is something I need to work on. I need to show others the grace that I would like for them to show me.

May God grant His grace and mercy to all of us to see ourselves and others through God's eyes.


  1. Ah, Richard, I needed to read this today. Thank you for this timely reminder. Beautiful!

  2. Corrie - That was one of those "ouch" readings. On Facebook a few days ago I typed my status as "Richard just stopped the world and got off." I posted that status because I was so sick of dealing with people. And then I read that passage and thought about how disappointed some of my acquaintances will be when they find out that I didn't actually get off and they still have to deal with me.

  3. Hi Richard, I see that it is time for true confessions. When you post on spiritual matters, I always seem to leave your site filled with peace and inspiration and optimism. When you post on political things, I get upset and agitated and I think, "I am never reading this again." I even took your blog off my favorites the other day because I felt there were so many (seemingly) mean-spirited posts that made me feel unkind and un-Christian. But today, I looked you back up, thinking there might be something I am meant to read, and here we are! I take today's post to heart, as I am like you in that respect: hasty to form an opinion and slow to give another chance. So, I hope you will forgive my haste. Blessings to you from Peggy

  4. Peggy - I certainly forgive you, but feel that I am the one who has caused the greater offense. It pains me to think that I have caused this response in you. At times I am cursed with a sharp tongue.

    I had a professor many years ago who used hyperbole and illustrated absurdity by saying absurd things. I learned so much from him and respected him so much that I have used his technique ever since. I, however, do not have the depth of humility and spirituality that he had and I end up causing pain and anger more often than I teach.

    Please forgive me for what has seemed mean spirited and unChristlike. I think your impressions were probably accurate. I am often do what I don't want to do and say what I should not say. I would hate for you to leave and not come back. I will try to show more restraint in the future.

    Peggy, you are my sister and my friend. Thank you for sharpening this rusty piece of iron.

  5. I appreciate your kind words, friend, and I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on Christians and pacifism and peacemaking. It is daunting to me to consider peacemaking on all the levels, personal, community and world. Peggy

  6. I was wondering about that comment you put on your facebook wall, but didn't want to ask about it. Thanks for explaining.


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