But Jesus is not just concerned with how these attitudes affect other people; Jesus is concerned with how these attitudes affect us. When we are judgmental, turn our backs on someone, or refuse to forgive, it is not the person toward whom we feel these things that suffers; but we suffer, because we must live with these negative emotions day-by-day. Similarly, when we forgive and are giving, we’ve no doubt all experienced the joy and freedom it brings. In either case, the measure we give is the measure we get back.
That being said, sometimes it’s hard to forgive, and it can be hard to give. And it must be clear that when we feel angry, resentful, or judgmental we cannot simply wish or will away our negative emotions, or, as it were, remove the log from our own eye.
But Jesus clearly intends for us to be free – to see clearly – so that we can be of real help to other people. We absolutely cannot convincingly proclaim God’s love and forgiveness, while we remain unloving and unforgiving ourselves.
But because we cannot achieve clarity of vision on our own, we might first of all discuss ourselves with another person. It might be a trusted friend or colleague, or someone whom you see at church regularly. A good rule of thumb is to choose someone who will understand your spiritual aspirations, but be unaffected by your choices. The object is to gain the insight that a third party can bring. Those who guide us spiritually, our rule of life reads, “help us enter the truth which is Christ, uncovering our illusions and guiding us to explore the freedom for which Christ has set us free.”
And because above all we need God’s help, we can also pray for the person with whom we feel angry, or judgmental. I don’t just mean once or haphazardly, but intentionally and continuously. Pray for that person that they might receive everything you want for yourself, peace of mind, a better relationship with God, health, security, prosperity, and happiness. Even if you don’t really want it for them, and your prayer is just empty words, say it anyway. Persist, and see if you don’t really come to mean it.
The founder of our Society, Richard Meux Benson is quoted in our rule as saying that, “in praying for others we learn really and truly to love them. As we approach God on their behalf we carry the thought of them into the very being of eternal love, and as we go into the being of him who is eternal Love, so we learn to love whatever we take with us there.”
God challenges us and invites us to be free from negativity, to refrain from judgment and condemnation. To forgive, and to give. But we cannot do it alone, and we cannot do it without God’s help. And God cannot do it without our cooperation.
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