He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first (John 8:7)
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WHEN WE STOP CRITICIZING OTHERS WE'RE MET WITH A WAVE OF GRACE
The next time you feel like criticizing someone, stop. Hold off. Put it aside. And feel a wave of grace.
That's right: keeping our mouths shut opens the Kingdom of heaven.
God loves silence. He loves when we contemplate. He loves when we suffer quietness instead of mouthing off and getting ourselves (and everyone else) jangled.
It's a tough thing to do, like anything that brings God's favor. It takes self control. It takes discipline. But it will work a miracle for you.
Try this: For a week, put it in your mind to resist every temptation to criticize. Whenever any negative thought toward others comes to mind, give it the boot. Resist it. And certainly do not verbalize it. As soon as we put a thought into words, we magnify it. We etch it into stone. It comes back to sting us.
So don't speak negatively. It's tough to do -- like avoiding any bad habit -- but you'll be amazed at what happens. If you succeed, you'll start feeling great. You'll feel filled. Prayer will come easier -- because when we don't criticize we're closer to God to begin with! And with closeness to God comes peace.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Criticizing others is a natural proclivity. We do it to try to elevate ourselves. It's a manifestation of pride. It's also a manifestation of envy. Putting down someone else makes us feel superior.
But the feeling is temporary. Whenever we talk against someone, it comes home to roost and if you watch events closely, you'll see yourself falling into the same type of behavior, or at least being tempted with the same behavior, that you have criticized others for. You cause more harm than good.
And most of the harm is to yourself. Criticism is divisive. It degrades others and ourselves. You'll note that the Pope rarely if ever criticizes a person by name. The same was true of Jesus. It was the matter of casting the first stone -- and yet we live in a society that is obsessed with doing just that. Our radio shows are full of broadcasters whose entire claim to fame is downing others, and when we listen -- when we enjoy someone besmirching another, when we like a constant spewing of negativity -- we become participants and we lose grace.
So next time you feel like pointing out the negative in someone, first try to be that person's spiritual "defense attorney." Strive to see the good in a person -- and focus on that. See all the reasons the person may have done what she or he did. Look at the person with mercy. Be kind. Be patient.
That's what God does, and thank God for that!