Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding Fault With Ourselves

Too Busy Being Right To Want to Hear the Truth

I have pondered often these last few years my own inclinations to not want to be criticized, and to not want to say to others anything that might OFFEND them.  In that sense, I have ignored the truth for that which is politically correct.  I have searched the Bible for evidence that political correctness is a biblical concept, in vain.  I also have tried to find reference to the word "nice".  Again, to no avail.

There was a time not all that many years ago, when I was in serious sin.  Not one of my Christian friends, many of whom knew what I was up to, spoke up and told me that I was wrong.  Now, of course, I knew that I was wrong, and my conscience bothered me for some time.  But, I wonder if the silence of my brothers in Christ was sinful on their part, not to diminish my own sin, but on its own merits.

This morning in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hour,s was an excerpt from the writings and teachings of Saint Dorotheus.  Dorotheus was a monk, and abbot who lived in the 500s AD.  Here is what he wrote about our deafness to unpleasantness.
Let us examine, my brothers, how it happens that many times a person hears something unpleasant and goes away untroubled, as if he had not heard it; and yet on some occasions he is disturbed and troubled as soon as he hears such words. What is the cause of this inconsistency? Is there one reason for it or many? I recognize a number of them, and one in particular is the source of all the others. As someone has put it: Occasionally this results from the condition in which a person happens to be.
If a person is engaged in prayer or contemplation, he can easily take a rebuke from his brother and be unmoved by it. On other occasions affection toward a brother is a strong reason; love bears all things with the utmost patience. Another reason may be contempt: if a person despises the one who is trying to trouble him, and acts as if he is the vilest of all creatures and considers it beneath his dignity even to look at him, or to answer him, or to mention the affront or insults to anyone else, he will not be moved by his words.
The result of this is, as I have said, that no one is disturbed or troubled if he scorns and disregards what is said. But on the other hand, it is also possible that a person will be disturbed and troubled by his brother’s words, either because he is not in a good frame of mind, or because he hates his brother. There are a great number of other reasons as well. Yet the reason for all disturbance, if we look to its roots, is that no one finds fault with himself.
This is the source of all annoyance and distress.This is why we sometimes have no rest. We must not be surprised when we are rebuked by holy men. We have no other path to peace but this.
We have seen that this is true in many cases, and, in our laziness and desire for rest, we hope or believe that we have entered upon a straight path when we are impatient with everyone, and yet cannot bear to blame ourselves.
This is the way we are. It does not matter how many virtues a man may have, even if they are beyond number and limit. If he has turned from the path of self-accusation he will never find peace. He will always be troubled himself, or else he will be a source of trouble for others and all his labors will be wasted.
In this world in which we live, we have become our own judge and jury.  We are, in fact, like the Pharisees of old, and this applies not just to non Christians, but is even more pernicious when it occurs among those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Are we so frail in our own egos that we believe that someone telling us we are out of line is crushing our spirit, rather than offering us an opportunity for correction? 

On the other hand, are we so afraid that someone would take offence at us for chastising something that they have done or said, which is harmful to their own person, or to others that they encounter or have encountered that we would stay silent rather than risk the distress speaking out the truth could cause?

I cannot count the number of times that I have failed to accept correction, nor to give it in love to someone in need of it.  I have been afraid to speak what I have observed if I thought it would create angst for me or for the person I have observed.

And you know what?  I am very likely to do it again, and soon.  And do you know what else?  It is going to bug me now each time I do it, because I know that I am wrong.

In failing to invite constructive criticism, to accept constructive criticism, and to offer constructive criticism, I am a LIAR.  And you know what God will do to liars?  Liars are basically lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, neither fish nor fowl.  Lying in this context is a way of straddling the fences of life.

Jesus said he will spit the lukewarm out of His mouth.  That is a disdainful image, and one that we liars deserve.

Forgive me Lord Jesus.  Help me to be a truth seeker, a truth teller, and a truth hearer.

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