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Pointers along the way #341

Why aren't they like me?
- Jacob Ninan

Practically everyone will be quick to admit they are not perfect. In saying this we want others to be considerate towards our imperfections. But paradoxically, we aren't so eager to bear with the imperfections we see in others! When we wonder how others can be like this, or why they can't be different, we seem to imply that if they were like us it would have been fine! We'd be aghast if someone told us we seem to think we were the standard, but isn't that what our behaviour indicates to an observer from outside?

This becomes worse if we are Christians thinking of other Christians. When we look at their faults we wonder how they could be like that, adding, "And they call themselves Christians!" Momentarily we forget this is what the world is saying about us, and perhaps for very good reasons too!

This is a part of our fallen nature. We just can't seem to be able to get rid of it. It's not as if we don't know the story of how Adam and Eve blamed each other and God (Ge.3:12,13), or how Jesus told us to first take out the plank from our eyes before trying to remove specks in others' eyes (Mt.7:4,5). The fact is that our eyes are drawn like magnets to the others' faults without having to make any effort at all. But it takes us a lot of effort to turn our attention to our own faults. And that is why most of us practically never learn to find any fault with ourselves even if we look. We may have heard about how couples going for marital counselling find it easy to list their spouse's faults but most often can't proceed beyond one or two points when it comes to their own faults.

Isn't the solution obvious from the above paragraph? What we need to do is to train ourselves to look inside more often. When we think about an incident with another person, our normal practice may have been to go over the other person's faults from what he said or did. These get magnified by repeated thinking so much that we become convinced that it was certainly his fault. And then we stop. But what we should learn to do is to think about the incident with an assumption that there could be things there that we did wrong or could have done better. Don't give up on this after a cursory glance and get back to looking at the other person's fault!

This doesn't come easily, nor does it become a habit till we practise it deliberately for some time. However, when we have begun to discover our own wrong words, deeds and attitudes, it becomes easier the next time to go along this path.

Of course when we see our faults it does not imply that the others don't have any. It is also not as if we are 'failures' just because we have failed here or there. What we are learning to recognise is that we are really not as perfect that we thought! Except for some people with serious psychological issues, this shouldn't be unmanageable. Once we 'manage' this, we are on our way to having 'sober' estimates of ourselves (Ro.12:3) and becoming truly humble!


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