Discover how to overcome the temptation of criticizing others and learn to bear their faults with patience. Explore Thomas à Kempis' teachings on Matthew 7:3.

Bearing The Defects Of Others

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3) All too often, we fall into the trap of criticism of others. It can be all too easy to lose patience with the faults of others. Here, Thomas à Kempis teaches us how to bear the defects of others with patience, following in the footsteps of Christ.


WHAT a man cannot amend in himself or others, he must bear with patience, till God ordains otherwise. Think that perhaps it is better so, for thy trial and patience, without which our merits are little worth. Thou must, nevertheless, under such impediments, earnestly pray that God may vouchsafe to help thee, and that thou mayest bear them well.

2. If anyone being once or twice admonished, does not comply, contend not with him, but commit all to God, that His will may be done, and He be honored in all His servants, who knows well how to convert evil into good. Endeavor to be patient in supporting the defects and infirmities of others, of what kind soever; because thou also hast many things which others must bear withal. If thou canst not make thyself such a one as thou wouldst, how canst thou expect to have another according to thy liking? We would willingly have others perfect, and yet we mend not our own defects.

3. We would have others strictly corrected, but are not willing to be corrected ourselves.The large liberty of others displeases us, and yet we would not be denied anything we asked for. We are willing that others should be bound up by laws, and we suffer not ourselves by any means to be restrained. Thus it is evident how seldom we weigh our neighbor in the same balance with ourselves. If all were perfect, what then should we have to suffer from others, for God’s sake?

4. But now God has so disposed things that we may learn to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2); for there is no man without defect, no man without his burden, no man sufficient for himself, no man wise enough for himself; but we must support one another, comfort one another, assist, instruct, and admonish one another. But how great each one’s virtue is best appears by occasions of adversity; for occasions do not make a man frail, but show what he is.

Practical Reflections

How excellent a means of sanctifying us and of fitting us for Heaven, is the exercise of that charity by which we support in ourselves and in others those weaknesses which we cannot correct! For nothing can humble and confound us before God more than a sense of our own miseries; and nothing can be more just than that we should bear in others, those things which we would have them support in ourselves. We should, therefore, bear with the tempers of others, and endeavor to give no cause of uneasiness to anyone on account of our own. It is thus, according to St. Paul, we shall carry one another’s burdens, and fulfill the law of Jesus Christ, which is a law of charity, meekness and patience.

Prayer

How true it is, O Lord, that contradictions are most advantageous to a Christian who endeavors to support them with patience and resignation! for they prove and purify his virtue and bring it to perfection. But Thou knowest what difficulty we experience in supporting these trials, and how sensible we are to everything that opposes our desires. Permit us not, O God, to yield to our feelings; but grant we may sacrifice them for the happiness of pleasing Thee; since to feel much, and not to follow the bent of our feelings, to keep silence when the heart is moved, and to withhold ourselves when we are all but overcome, is the most essential practice, and the surest mark for that truly Christian virtue which is to gain for us eternal happiness. This, O Jesus, we hope to obtain from Thine infinite bounty. Amen.

This article is taken from a chapter in The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis which is available from TAN Books

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