Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Being Smug In Our Faith

As humans, we've a tendency to make assumptions and judgements on the faith, strengths and weaknesses of others in relation to these same characteristics in ourselves. Think how often we've said to another, "If I can do it, you can." Or, "Well, the reason you still have this problem is that you've not prayed enough, or are asking God in the wrong way!" And again, "You need more faith." I've uttered these statements more than once in the past, but it wasn't until recently, in the last few years have I realized how unfair to others it was to say these things.  Not only is it unfair, but it borders on the arrogant, and setting ourselves up as the standard for others to set their goals.

We are all unique individuals. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and in those that we do share, we do not all have the same degree of strength and weakness, yet very often we assume we do. In other words, we may all have a weakness for chocolate, and it may be difficult to pass on eating it everyday, but for some, the difficulty is less than for another. Yet, when we say "If I can do it, you can." we are saying that they are not trying hard enough. That if I, as weak as I know I am, am able to do this, then there is no reason you can't. We are assuming that we are weaker than anyone else on earth, that passing on chocolate cannot be more difficult for anyone else than it was for us, so you have no excuse for your lack of will power.

I've had a certain difficulty in my life that I have not been able to overcome and I mentioned this to a person once and I was told to pray about it. I told them I did, very often, so they concluded with all certainty, that I was not praying hard enough and that I lacked faith. I wonder if they would have told St. Paul the same thing if he had told them of his 'thorn' that he had asked God to remove and God replied that His grace was sufficient? Did St. Paul not pray enough or have enough faith?

Apart from our strengths and weaknesses, we do not all have the same amount of faith, yet we seem annoyed when finding someone unable to accept things in faith as we do. We seem to forget that we were not born with the faith that we have today. Our faith is a God given gift, free for the taking and hopefully it grew in strength over the years, so why assume that others should have the same amount of faith as we do? Have we forgotten that there were certain times in our lives where we did not have all the faith we do today? Perhaps that is where they are today and instead of accusing them for their lack of faith, we should encourage them to ask God for an increase in faith.

Next time you are tempted to scold someone for their inability to do something that you can, perhaps you should just consider that you may have been the fortunate recipient of God's grace and be thankful for that, while praying for the other person. And the next time you are tempted to think your faith is stronger than another person's faith, perhaps it would be good for you to show the other person what strong faith can do, even if it is the size of a mustard seed. You know your faith is stronger than theirs, so show them. Tell that mountain to uproot itself and move over there. Go on. Do it. Show them.

2 comments:

  1. Whoooo, this is a big one! Someone very close to me used to suffer terribly with a physical complaint. So many good, kind, well-intentioned Catholics would scold, or encourage bracingly that more prayer, greater sincerity,or stronger faith were needed for healing. Nice, eh?

    Overlooking the fact that it's not our place to judge the state of another person's soul, or presume to know the level of their faith and what all they may be dealing with, it's good to remember that more is accomplished with love than pride. Reaching out with compassion will do more good than admonishing them with pity.

    Thanks for the reminder!

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