Let your first thought be not of condemnation, but of mercy.
One of the most difficult temptations to overcome is that of judging a person who publicly sins in front of us, or even a person whose sins are publicly announced on the news. We immediately want to think less of that person and to degrade them by saying or thinking uncharitable thoughts.
Yet, if we are to live the Christian way of life, our first thought should be of mercy and forgiveness.
Jesus said to his disciples that dwelling too much on the faults of others will easily lead to a tendency to overlook our own faults.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
A way to overcome this initial reaction is to pray for that person, invoking God’s mercy upon them. Here are a few aspirations that can be helpful to develop this habit.
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.Lord! Lay not this sin to their charge.My God! I forgive from my heart all who have injured me; and I beg for them all the graces of which they stand in need.If they have, by injuring me, offended thee, my God, please forgive them.
By doing this simple act of praying for them, you will be following God’s command to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
It’s not an easy disposition to foster, but one that will lead to a more merciful and charitable heart.
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