Dear friends, I am continuing my series of short meditations on the Gospel of Matthew. This one, the eight in the series, concludes the meditations on the sublime Sermon on the Mount. Thank you for reading along!
On Using Anger as a Trigger to Transform Ourselves
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” Jesus says. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
And so, Jesus reiterates a law of life: sowing and reaping. “Those
who draw the sword will perish by the sword,” he says. The
swift to condemn will be judged more harshly. For the seeds we plant
in the garden of our lives–our secret thoughts, our words, and the
kindness or meanness of our actions determine our flourishing.
We reap what we have sown in unexpected ways and at unexpected
times, since God, the righteous Judge, observes both our generosity
and our unkindness towards those we judged powerless to help
or harm us, and God holds our lives in his hands.
Jesus does not condemn accurately reading character. That
is an essential life skill—to realise that not everyone is trustworthy,
honest, truthful or decent. Indeed, Jesus warns us about
deceptive, smooth-talking people–“wolves in sheep’s clothing,”
out to devour you. Assess people by the fruit of their lives,
However, dwelling on another’s faults, while ignoring our own,
invites judgement, Jesus says. He recommends using our irritation
with annoying or evil people as a reminder and trigger for
self-examination. When we are bothered by a speck in another’s eyes,
Jesus recommends checking if we have a whole log of the same
failing or a greater one in our own eyes. (Interestingly, Freud says
we are most infuriated by our own faults mirrored in other people!).
Obsessive judging is wasted time and energy. We must train ourselves
to refocus that energy into transforming those blind spots, limps, and
cracks in our characters, which so often destroy the house of people’s lives.
Besides, fretting over others’ faults leads only to evil, as the Psalmist says.
We unconsciously imitate speech and character traits we dwell on!
Read a good stylist, and you write better; focus on another’s stinginess,
manipulativeness, or dishonest self-promotion, and you risk mirroring it.
And what of us who’ve been judgey and critical? When we
repent, we live “under the mercy,” in Charles Williams’ phrase.
Jesus forgave Peter, who betrayed him, and he will forgive us.
God devises a unique calling suited to both the naturally sweet and
the naturally outspoken and no-nonsense. Whatever seeds you
have sown into your life, thistles or grapes, place them in the hands
of the God of redemption. Ask him to make the garden of your life
bloom, and to help you do the work he has given you to do.
I would love you to read my memoir, fruit of much “blood, sweat, toil and tears.”
Rosaries, Reading, Secrets: A Catholic Childhood in India in the UK, and in the US, here, well, and widely available, online, worldwide 🙂
or Audible. And I would be very grateful for reviews and ratings!!
If you’d like to read my previous recorded meditations,
Thank you 🙂