From THE IMITATION OF CHRIST by Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
Turn your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men. In judging others a man labors vainly, often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and examining himself, he does something that is always profitable…
Endeavor to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, of whatever sort they may be; because you also have many a fault which others must endure…
Perhaps it is best that you be tested and that you learn patience, for without such patience and trial all your good deeds are of little account. Nevertheless, under such difficulties you should pray that God will help you, so that you may bear them calmly and contentedly…
If you cannot yet make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you expect that others should in all ways be to your liking? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, and yet we do not want our own desires denied us. We would have them bound by laws, and yet would allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how seldom we weigh our neighbor in the same balance with ourselves. If all were perfect, what should we then have to suffer from others for God’s sake? But God has thus ordered it, that we may learn to bear with one another’s burdens.
No man is without fault, no man without his burdens, no man is sufficient unto himself, nor is any man by himself wise enough. Hence, we must bear with and support one another; comfort and help each other; instruct, counsel, advise, and admonish each other.
The measure of every man’s virtue is best revealed in times of adversity. Adversity does not weaken a man, but rather shows what he is.
Matthew 7:1-5 — (Jesus said), “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 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.”
Romans 15:1-3 — We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
I Thessalonians 5:14 — We urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, and be patient with everyone.
Galatians 6:2-4 — Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.
Lord God, I have indeed disobeyed your commandments. I have been impatient in suffering. I am unsympathetic and unmerciful. I fail to assist my neighbor as I ought. I am unable to resist sin. I do not tire of doing what is wrong. Dear Lord, pour out your grace to me so that I may obey you and keep each one of your commandments. Help me to give my heart and soul to you, even if that means I must be at odds with the world. Amen. –Martin Luther