[In one of the “I Love Lucy Shows” Lucy and two other women were gossiping about a perspective new member coming into their club. The gossip was juicy and they were all interested in contributing to the negativity. All of a sudden the new member came into the room because the door was open. The three women jumped from their seat to hug and kiss her and welcome her into the club.] We all know what hypocrisy is—being two-faced. Putting other people down to make ourselves look good.
That’s what the Pharisees were doing. They pointed out the faults of others and ignored their own. Sure is easy to see the faults of others. Since we live in an imperfect world, it is easier for us to focus on the faults of others rather than recognize to our imperfections. We have a negative thought every three seconds. If we direct the negative thought to ourselves, we might have to improve, so we direct them to the closest targets—usually the people who live with us. “Wipe your feet; clean your room; don’t chew with your mouth opened.” Certainly parents have to instruct their children by offering constructive criticism. However, habitual negative comments among adults do not produce positive behavior. Some spouses set out, from the beginning, to change their husband/wife. Bad idea! “What you see is what you get.” We are all damaged goods. San Martin de Porres believed that everyone was better than he, even the worst sinner in town. As a consequence everybody loved him because he did not judge them. He was known as Martin the Charitable. Judging others is easy. Presuming the best in people is not so easy. Because we are suspicious. What we most dislike in ourselves is what we judge in others. Unresolved issues in our physiological makeup affect us when we least expect. Before we realize, we’ve make a negative judgment.
The best way to counteract the negativity is to love the one we see in the mirror. Some might think that such behavior goes against humility. On the contrary, Jesus told us, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Lack of self-love is the culprit for depression, anxiety, suicide. Some of us have a long tail of regrets. Cut it off! The past can never be undone, only forgiven. We need to forgive ourselves. The past can be healed. When we experience self-forgiveness we will be much more prone to forgive those around us.
Folks with a lot of “hang ups” worry about non-essential stuff, like titles, the money, what people are going to think about them. Their self-esteem drags on the floor because they rely on externals to give them importance. “As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’”. (Which means ‘great one’) What makes us great is not what others think about us, but what we think about ourselves—that’s how others see us. If we go around with a long face, looking like we are ready to bark, we cannot serve the Kingdom. Regardless of what has happened in the past, there is hope for a better tomorrow. A better tomorrow starts with my attitude—with your attitude. Negativity is in the air, but we do not have to allow negativity to affect us. We can rise above the mess when we remember who we are in Christ. A message written on a cup, “God loves everybody, but I’m His favorite.” If each of us can open our heart to receive unconditional love, the world can be a better place. When we are convinced of God’s love for us, we will not lash out, we will not accuse, we will not condemn.
The key to freedom is within our reach. Just look inside. The invitation to perfect love is in our heart.