Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Good one God

I've been reading the Thomas a Kempis classic The Imitation of Christ. I think God must laugh sometimes at how clever he is. He will often put things in my path to read, to watch, to hear that speak directly into a situation that I am currently dealing with. Chapter XVI of this book is entitled "Dealing with the Faults of Others." I have been recently involved in a conflict between two parties, where one of those parties seems to be unwilling to seek reconciliation. They simply want to attack and destroy. And I'll be honest, that makes me want to say "screw it" and to just respond in like kind. At any rate, I read this chapter this morning:

"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.

"If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how seldom we think of others as we do of ourselves.

"If all were perfect, what should we have to suffer from others for God's sake? But God has so ordained, that we may learn to bear with one another's burdens, for there is no man without fault, no man without burden, no man sufficient to himself nor wise enough. Hence we must support one another, console one another, mutually help, counsel, and advise, for the measure of every man's virtue is best revealed in time of adversity - adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is."
I love the one line that says to try and bear with the defects of others, because you have many faults of your own that other people have to deal with. I admit that I often want to hold people to such a standard that I myself am not willing to be held to. The last line of this chapter says "the measure of every man's virtue is best revealed in time of adversity - adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is." Wow. Ok God, I get it.


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