'If a man love not his brother that is seen
how can he love God whom he hath
Between ourselves and those about
us there is almost always going on
an open competition, or at least,
a secret comparison.
In that comparison others sink
as we apparently rise. To disparage
a rival is a selfish advantage; and
to selfish natures every neighbor
is a rival! Other people stand in our
way, or we fancy that they do, in
business, reputation, popularity,
etc. By that meaner disposition
that allies us more closely to devils
than angels, we try to drag others
down by uncharitable judgments.
To attack uncharitableness we need
to start with envy and pride! Or the
process may be subtler and
craftier yet. One form of self love
is self-complacency. By passing
severe denunciations on other
men's faults, we compliment the
delicasy of our own moral
discrimination and the keeness
of our sense of right. This is
how Pharisees are made! Three
crimes are committed
in one: we condemn our fellows;
we screen our own sin, we flatter
our own self-esteem.
Another part of uncharitableness is
the pleasurable exercise of unjust power.
Characters are torn to pieces, good
names tarnished, faults are exaggerated,
nor always with obvious gain but for
the sheer joy of seeing the blow take
effect. Men like to expend their
strength and this is what happens.
It is like a cat killing a mouse for sport.
You have seen two uncharitable talkers
in private get together over a drink
and rip someone up one side and down
the other. Then they will each go their
own ways and do the same thing
with someone else but this time
the victim will be the first person
they gossiped, or was that murdered,
Lacking the finer ability to satirize
the failings of systems, they attack
individual men and women. Perhaps
it would be better doing good and
going about God's business than
finding what is the matter with everything.
Third, we must see that the pride
we have in our opinion, and the
impatience and disdain we have
with anyone who disagrees with us
is another monster. God created
us with a certain amount of healthy
diversity. We are not all going to
see it alike. Truth has many sides.
Narrow minds take the colored
refracted rays of God's great
heaven-filling light as insults to
their own vision. Don't argue
over non-essentials! We are
all confused about how far our
loyalty to truth and virture forbids
us to tolerate people who seem
to us to have departed from the
truth. You can see the tremendous
obstacles that beset our growth
in Christian grace.
So how shall we proceed?
First, we must distinguish
between the error itself and
the person who holds the error.
Hating the sin and loving the
sinner it is said, but hating the
sin because it has made someone
its victim is probably better.
But is this just playing around
with words and still making
excuse for ourselves?
We despise and wrong each
other for sheer neglect to
understand each other. Our
natural differences are great
and without Christ, we might
as well count the hope of
overcoming our entrenched
self-focus as impossible.
But do consider this: how
suddenly and completely
many of our most unqualified
condemnations would be silenced
if the whole early history of the
wretchd subject of them could be
laid open to us. Then, instead
of condemning, we would be
thanking God's providence
that those events that caused
such chaos and destruction
had not been dealt out to us.
We must also remember that
even though men do awful things
we do not know how much
more awful their deeds might
have been. Each of us is
fighting a terrible battle.
We are told that charity will
go on where all other exploits
will cease: Tongues, prophecies,
earthly knowledge--all will pass
away, but charity will go on
In these days of tender commemoration
of our Lord's loving sorrow let us
multiply our acts of devotion, confirm
our faith, renew our hope. Are we
doing anything to enlarge our
hearts? Empty and profitless
before God will be our prayers if
we harbor enmity, uncharitable
grudges, unforgiving hatred,
and a heart unreconciled to any
child of God.
Why don't you give Jesus a
present this Easter? I think
He would love a heart that
is ready to let go of all this
hateful garbage and be ready
to love. Don't you?
New Helps for a Holy Lent, 1882
Abridged and Adapted