How hard can it be, really?
As a priest, I often hear people complaining about others. For a multitude of motives, people will come to complain to Abouna, perhaps because he is ‘in charge’ at Church, or perhaps because they think he will fix the person up, or perhaps (I hope not) because they think it will benefit them somehow to tarnish the reputation of their enemy in Abouna’s eyes.
Before I go further, I should probably point out that it doesn’t work, just in case you’ve ever been tempted to think it might be fun. Priests in general do not hold a ‘bad idea’ about anyone. We tend to take the view that all of us, (including the priests) are sinners grappling with their own weaknesses and all equally in need of God’s mercy and grace.
But I wonder why some people do so enjoy picking out other people’s faults? We all do it. It’s an easy trap to fall into. But why do we do it?
Does it make the critic feel superior, perhaps?
Or perhaps it makes him feel better about himself: if you can’t rise to the level of others, the next best thing is to bring them down to your own level.
Does it make him feel intelligent, something like: “Oooh, aren’t I clever for picking that up, when the person I’m criticising clearly has no idea!”
Or is it a sort of passive way to get back at someone. You know you can’t punch them in the face, so you fantasise about condemning them.
Does it distract him from the painful subject of his own faults?
I think I would be very unhappy if my self-esteem depended on putting others down. How miserable! And what a waste of time! Surely my self-value is not relative? Whether I am a good person or a bad person depends on who I am, not on how bad others are. If all around me were evil, horrible people, and I was no worse than a simple liar, that doesn’t make me a saint, simply by comparison!
The danger in finding lots of specks in other eyes, of course, is that I might never focus on the log in my own eye. This has two rather undesirable consequences:
1. I will never be able to repent from my sins, for I will never become aware they even exist.
2. When the time comes for me to be judged by the real Judge, He will apply the same degree of mercy to me that I applied to others. Uh-oh…
Now I am getting worried. I’ve been writing a lot of opinions on this Blog. Sometimes, they have been quite critical. Have I been focusing on the specks in the eyes of others, while all the time neglecting the blog in my own eye?
PS A person whose vision is obstructed by a log is unlikely to have the ability to see something as small as a speck anyway. Think about it….