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Why you should ignore someone’s imperfections, according to St. John of the Cross

John of the Cross
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It’s easy to point out other people’s faults, but much harder to look at our own.

In an age of sound bites and angry tweets, its easy to scoff at the imperfections of others. We are tempted in certain situations to try to intervene and correct someone when we see their imperfections on full display.

While there are situations where fraternal correction is warranted and the best course of action, more often our response should be one of silence.

In many cases a response will do more harm than good, especially if we have a knee-jerk reaction and try to overly correct someone when our emotions are flying off the wall.

St. John of the Cross wrote in his Sayings of Light and Love that silence is often the key to virtue.

Ignoring the imperfections of others, preserving silence and a continual communion with God will eradicate great imperfections from the soul and make it the possessor of great virtues.

This corresponds to the words of Jesus regarding the judgment of others.

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 7:2-5)

In other words, when we see someone’s imperfections, our first response should be to look at ourselves and see if there is something in our lives that we need to change. 

The surest way to change the world is to first allow God to transform our own lives. In the end, we will be most responsible for our own soul, rather than our ability to point out the faults of others.

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