Wednesday, July 26, 2017

when making excuses is the right answer

St John Chrysostom talks to us in A Year with the Church Fathers today about holding ourselves to the same standard that we hold our spouses to. He's talking to men, and saying that they shouldn't hold their wives to a super high standard of modesty and fidelity, then act however they want themselves.

And he's right. It's kind of sad that he had to say that. But it points out a bigger truth that we can all learn from.

See, when it comes to sin, you and I do this really harmful thing. We come up with the best excuses for why our sins are not that big of a deal. We excuse ourselves for the worst attitudes, thoughts, words, and lack of good deeds. But when it comes to other people, any little thing they do wrong and we blast them, at least in our minds, but often in our words. Bad enough when we do it to their faces, but it's even worse when we lay into them behind their backs.

I think that when Jesus taught us to love others the way we love ourselves, He was telling us to exactly reverse this. He wants us to start moving toward a place where we make the best excuses for other people's behavior, and love them anyway, but hold ourselves to a very high standard, and kill any little sin that tries to pop up in our own lives.

I say "move toward a place" because we're not going to be able to make this change overnight. It's just not humanly possible. Of course, with God all things are possible. And He CAN just miraculously change us so that we act this way. But that's not usually what He does. Normally He wants us to cooperate in that change.

So let's start taking steps in that direction. Holding ourselves more and more accountable for our sins, even the little tiny ones, and giving other people tons of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.

God, please help us make the change.