“Resist spending your time and energy focused on the sins of others.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 2, 2021
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24, ESV
The holiday season brings with it both joy and sorrow, hope and despair, peace and chaos. And while this may be true in a general sense, each individual experience of this season is shaped and impacted by the unique stories of our lives. For some, temptation towards despondency is alive and well, feeling the ache of loneliness and longing for close relationships. For others, the heightened focus on consumerism alerts you to the covetousness in your heart, desiring the life or material goods of your neighbor.
Whatever this season may surface, it is an opportunity and invitation to conquer the passions and distorted desires that exist in your heart. Yet if we are to actually grow in virtue and Christlike living, we must strive to overcome our passions, not those of our friend or family member. There are two ways in which this is important.
First, we must resist spending our time and energy focused on the sins of others. Though your motives may be pure, rarely is it wise and recommended to help others see their shortcomings and failures. As the ancient words of St. Ephrem remind us, we must ask the Lord to “help us see our own faults and not judge our brothers and sisters.” When tempted to “help” someone see their brokenness, there is in the very same moment an invitation to turn that energy inwards, instead doing the much harder work of self-examination. “Lord, where am I at fault and giving into my disordered desires today?” This is the way of wisdom.
Additionally, and in a related sense, there is no virtue gained in “conquering” passions that you do not have! If you are a naturally kind and patient person, it is not growth for you to live without anger or harshness towards others. If you’ve never struggled with overeating, the “temptations” of holiday feasting should not be at the center of your focus. Wisdom is found when you conquer your passions. As such, receive the holidays as a gift and allow them to unearth in you the deep desires of your heart, and then by God’s grace, submit them to the way of the cross, for it is the way that leads to life, peace, and lasting joy.
Father, help me to conquer my passions and distorted desires, that I may truly be free to love you and my neighbor as myself, I pray through Christ my Lord. Amen.
What passions do you need to conquer this holiday season? How can you intentionally focus on your own growth, rather than the passions and sins of others?
Geoffrey Golden, Revere: Alpha and Omega
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