Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 89:1-18; 147:1-11, Hosea 8:1-14, Acts 23:23-35, Luke 7:18-35
Right now, somebody somewhere has something bad to say about you. Don’t sweat it: you’re in good company. When John the Baptist abstained from bread and wine, people said he was possessed by a demon. When Jesus ate and drank freely with everyone including tax collectors, people called him a glutton and a drunkard. Neither was true, but that didn’t stop people from talking. One way or another, the same thing happens to all of us.
Wise people realize praise and blame are all the same. Whether someone compliments or criticizes us, we should try to hear it with the same dispassionate ear. Other people’s words should neither inflate nor crush our sense of self. We don’t outright ignore what others have to say, because they may have a point – but they may also have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.
While it’s hard not to take such things personally, let’s remember that whatever we do, whether we do it well or poorly, God loves us through it. God’s love for us does not depend on our failure or success, and does not fluctuate with public opinion. Of course we try to live as we believe God wants us to, but when we fall short – and we will fall short – God does not punish us by withholding love. To the contrary, God continues to pour love on us so we can begin anew. Conversely, because God always loves us completely, doing well does not “earn” us more love.
Many Christians can talk about loving others, but find it immodest or vain to talk about loving themselves. If God loves us, who are we not to? Feeling loved by God is how we learn to most fully love others. It’s human nature to criticize other people for the things we don’t like about ourselves, but the more kindly we learn to see ourselves, the more charitably we see others. When we recognize and embrace the divine spark of love in ourselves, we can more easily see it in others, and love them because God loved us first.
Comfort: God loves you. Always.
Challenge: At the beginning and end of every day for the rest of the month, remind yourself out loud that God loves you.
Prayer: God, thank you for loving me, and creating me to love. Amen.
Discussion: Which of your own flaws irritate you most in other people?
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