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Pointers along the way #43

Want to change others?
- Jacob Ninan

From the days of Adam and Eve, people have been thinking that the fault is on the other side. We try to play one up with the others for what they have done to us, giving tit for tat and more, trying to teach them a lesson, or telling everyone around us how wrong the others are. We are always trying to change the people who give us trouble by telling them their faults, giving advice whether it is asked for or not, reminding them every time they do wrong, or praying for them.

We are waiting and waiting for the others to change, but to our consternation this does not seem to happen. Many times things seem to get worse! We tend to forget the fact that we human beings, in addition to being mostly unaware of our faults, can rarely tolerate others pointing out our faults.

Out of all the methods people use to change the others, prayer may be the safest. In some cases this may be the only practical way that is open for us. God listens to our prayer and takes action. We must persist in this even if we cannot see immediate results. But even prayer does not seem to work in many cases.

Jesus has something to tell us in this connection. First of all He tells us not to judge the others (Mt.7:1). This is not saying that we must not have any opinion about what they do (See Jn.7:24). It means we must not view them with contempt or condemn them, as though we ourselves were angels (Lk.18:9). Jesus goes on to tell us not to be occupied with the specks in the other's eyes while we have logs in ours (Mt.7:3,4). To put it in the context of our subject, it means that these others are put off by our pious attitude in which we are trying to pick out their specks while they can see logs in us which they see we are totally ignorant of!

This is what makes the whole thing ineffective. God too cannot answer our prayers when He sees such an attitude in us towards the others.

Jesus shows us the way. First take out the logs, and then we can see clearly to take out the specks (Mt.7:5). Keep working on our own lives to see how much we are unlike Jesus and to remove those logs. Then perhaps we can be of help to the others too.