Today I am expected to have empathy—that disposition by which I put myself in another person's shoes, feel what he feels, understand his actions and judge with more compassion.
In the past I was expected to lend an ear to a neighbor's problems or opinions and it was enough to be attentive.
Today I am expected to listen with loving attention, be willing to learn, be humble enough to change if necessary, and be totally interested in all he has to say. I am asked to be Objective.
Today I am asked to be receptive to everyone and to regard only those things that unite us rather than the things that separate us.
In the past I was asked to be generous, which meant an unselfish giving.
Today I am expected to be magnanimous and give my love, my talents, my time and my possessions to God and my neighbor.
There is a definite, positive aspect of obedience that I may miss completely. It molds me into the image of Jesus in a special way. He was obedient to death, and His humility in submitting to His own creatures redeemed me from the slavery of sin.
Obedience is a strong virtue, capable of making me master of my emotions by giving me more strength to conquer my pride as I submit to those above me out of respect for their God-given authority,—and those below me out of love.
I must not permit the evil capabilities of human nature to sour my faith in the tremendous good that is possible despite the frailty of that nature.
My brother my offend me seventy times seven but my faith in him should rise to the occasion, give him the benefit of the doubt and forgive him. His knowledge that his offenses have not lessened my faith in his inner good-ness will help him gain confidence in himself.
Most people try hard to please, and my faith in them must be strong enough to ride the tide of failure as they voyage home.
Even if my fellow-man has proven faithless time after time, I can at least retain a hope that he will improve, pray for him, and think kindly without frustration and disappointment.
Jesus gave me a beautiful example of an undying faith in my neighbor by the way He treated Judas. To the very last, at the moment He was betrayed, Jesus called him "Friend."
My faith may not go that far, but at least I can try to build rather than destroy, to overcome rather than succumb, to be confident rather than doubtful, and raise sullen spirits with a friendly, "You can do it."
I must be sure that behind all my actions there is a motive. The effort I put forth in accomplishing the smallest task must have some motive behind it.
My failures may be my greatest successes. It is in failure that I have often drawn closer to God, learn to depend more on Him than myself, gained self-knowledge, and seen things in their right perspective.
If I continue to learn these lasting lessons from disappointment and failure, I can afford to continue being enthusiastic about the future and my capabilities.
There is another aspect of enthusiasm that I must not overlook. It is the enthusiasm of other people.
When I observe my neighbor joyously enthusiastic about anything, I must be careful not to put a damper on his joy.
It is lack of self-control that makes me lash out at my brother in a burst of anger,
show impatience with my neighbor,
talk about the faults of others,
speak before I think,
be intemperate in things that cause me to buy things I cannot afford,
be brutally frank and caustic at times,
criticize the faults of others publicly.
Self-control will grow stronger in proportion as my repentance is sincere.
When I tell God I am sorry for having offended Him, this contrition must be followed by the determination never to commit that fault again.
Repentance without a firm resolution to improve is no repentance at all.
I cannot blame people and circumstances for my offenses, though both may be involved. It is my Will that decides my actions, and a lack of control over that will is the real cause of my faults.
the ability to wait my turn to speak during a heated discussion,
to be at peace when others surpass me in talents and accomplishments, realizing that all good things come from God,
to listen with a spirit of objectivity rather than an 'I know it all' attitude,
to be content with what I am, but confident that His grace can make me better,
to be obedient to those in authority without resentment,
to be available to everyone at all times knowing He will make up for what I lack,
the desire to please rather than be pleased,
and most of all,
humility is to believe His revelations, hope in His Word, and love Him more than myself.
Humility prevents me from taking things personally and this frees me from misunderstandings and heartaches.
Humility is that quality most pleasing to God because it faces truth with love and peace. The truth being in this case that everything I am and have comes from God, and I look to Him alone for a constant influx of goodness and love.
A poor man may have little, but if he possesses faith and trust he can survive on that little and be free to love God and his neighbor and enjoy all things God has given him in nature, in his family, and in the world. He has no-one to envy him, persecute him, or covet his goods. He is free to concentrate on the spiritual riches that last. Those riches he can possess in abundance.
But if a poor man is hateful of those who have more than he, or wishes in his heart only one thing—money—if this occupies his mind, makes him bitter and pretentious, then his is rich in his heart and destitute in reality.
As I contemplate these possibilities, I realize that neither riches nor poverty are in themselves of any consequence.
My heart will be where my treasure is, and that must be in God. Rich or poor, I must have a responsible detachment, and know that whether I possess great riches or give all to the poor, without God and His Love it would be nothing.
If the worldly things that God in His Goodness gives to me, possess me, control me, and make me proud and arrogant, then how can He trust me with the great gifts of soul?
If I fall beneath the weight of a splinter, how can I carry a beam?
If I am satisfied with only the things I can see, feel, hear, and touch, then how can He give me the vision to see the unseen?
It seems that the matter of forgiveness is clear; God expects me to forgive in my words, in my heart, and in my deeds.
In My Words
Since asking forgiveness is a requisite for being forgiven, I must be ready to say I am sorry when I offend my brother.
When I see my brother has acquired a sinful habit, Jesus said I must reprove him and if he is sorry and says so, I must forgive.
There are times when a neighbor may offend me and not know it. I must have the courage to bring this to his attention, not so much because of the offense done to me, but because this fault in him may offend God and make him un-Christ-like.
When he says he is sorry, I must be very quick to forgive and do so as often as he says he is sorry.
I must put myself in my neighbor's shoes, take upon myself his personality, understand his dispositions, and know I would be capable of the same faults were I in his place.
Even though I may not be as weak as my brother in many areas, I must remember I also have my faults and he too must forgive me many times.
Mercy Of The Heart
A brother must be forgiven and treated as a friend because he has given me the opportunity to be like my Father in Heaven who lets His sun rise and shine on the just and the unjust.
God has used my brother's frailties to give me the opportunity to be like Jesus—merciful and forgiving.
It does not always follow that my brother and I will ever be bosom friends, but it does mean I wish him well, pray for him and hold no grudge or resentment.
It is difficult after forgiving an injury to forget the incident entirely and yet, this is exactly the kind of forgiveness I expect and hope for from God.
I want my faults and sins to be erased from the Book of Life and I rely on His Mercy to do so.
He will do exactly that, but He asks in return that I do the same to my brother.
When God forgives me He always gives me some token of that forgiveness. It may be a light-hearted feeling or more grace to overcome myself the next time.
His Goodness is so great and His Mercy so Infinite that He rejoices over my repentance and treats me as a long-lost son.
Perhaps a smile or a handshake are sufficient, or some token of my continued confidence in him as a person—to make him realize I do not think less of him because of his offense.
This forgiving-giving is a trait I too must acquire. I must give my brother some sign that I rejoice in his repentance.
I must not forget the power of holiness of life. If I strive for union with God, that union will manifest itself to my neighbor in many hidden ways.
Jesus described this when He said, "If, therefore, your whole body is filled with light, and no trace of darkness, it will be light entirely, as when a light shines on you with its rays." (Luke 11:36)
Those rays of God's Love shining forth from a soul united to Him, affect every person that soul meets.
The soul itself may not be conscious of its effect on others, but its example of constancy, courage, faith, and love shine out to others like the rays of the sun.
It is enough for a soul that its Lord alone knows its suffering and pain; its only desire is to witness to the joy of belonging to such a Lord.
This kind of witness is powerful and safe because it is hidden, but men must also see my good works and here I often run into danger.
Jesus told me many times during His life to be careful that the light inside me is not darkness. I must be careful not to light a lamp only to put it under a bushel. It must be seen by men to give them light. (Luke 11:33-36)
I can give scandal by a bad example and by no example. A lukewarm Christian can do more harm than one who is leading a sinful life.
A "do nothing" attitude can make my neighbor apathetic and hopeless. It is better for my neighbor to see me try and fail than not to try at all.
Everything I am and everything I do influences someone for better or for worse. I need not be self-conscious and think only of my example, but neither must I forget that other people are influenced by my example and that it speaks a thousand words.
Everyone is important to God and the world. A sick old woman in an apartment, unnoticed and unwanted by her neighbor may, if she keeps close to God, help to save the very person who rejects her.
It is not important I am seen by men, for God can use my life, example, prayers and union with Him to do great things—things I will know only in Eternity—but Eternity is where it counts.
If I cannot bear the fruit of success, I can at least bear the fruit of effort.
My repentance must be proven by a change of life and here is where I need self-control. Over-indulgence and lack of self-control cause many sins.
Jesus came down from glory to my suffering level that I might rise from my misery to His Glory. But to do this I must take upon myself the whole Christ—suffering and resurrected.
He took upon Himself my sins that I might sin no more.
He took upon Himself my weakness that I might have grace to overcome.
He took upon Himself my pain that I might hold his Hand in mine.
He took upon Himself my humiliation that I might be raised to His Throne.
He took upon Himself the loss of His friends in His hour of need that I might never be alone in the hour of my need.
He stood alone, abandoned by God and man, so I need never feel desolate or rejected.
Can I ever think, even for a moment, that I can be transformed into a worthy son of God unless I follow in His Blood-stained Footsteps?
"I have loved you with an everlasting love." (Jer. 31:3)
Excerpts from THE FRUITS OF HIS LOVE
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