BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 16: OF BEARING THE DEFECTS OF OTHERS
WHATEVER a man cannot amend in himself or in others, he ought to bear with patiently, until God ordain it otherwise.
Reflect that perhaps it is better so to prove thee and thy patience, without which our merits are little worth.
Nevertheless, it behooveth thee to make supplication under such hindrances, that God would vouchsafe to come and help thee, and that thou mayst be able to bear them in good part.
2. If anyone, once or twice admonished, doth not comply, contend not with him; but leave it all to God, that His will may be done, Who knoweth how to turn evil into good, and that He may be honored in all His servants.
Study to be patient in bearing the defects of others, and their infirmities, be they what they may; for thou hast many things, which others must bear withal.
If thou canst not make thyself what thou wouldst be, how canst thou expect to have another so exactly to thy mind?
We would fain see others perfect, and yet our own faults we amend not.
3. We would have others strictly corrected, and we will not be corrected ourselves.
The large liberty others take displeaseth us, and yet we ourselves will not be denied anything we ask for.
We wish others to be kept within the rules, and we ourselves will not bear to be checked ever so little.
And so it is clear how seldom we weigh our neighbor in the same balance with ourselves.
If all were, perfect, what then should we have to bear with from others for the love of God?
4. But now God hath thus ordered it, that we may learn to bear one another's burdens; for no one is without a fault, no one but hath a burden; no one is sufficient for himself, no one is wise enough for himself: but we have to support one another, comfort one another, help, instruct and admonish one another.
But the measure of each man's virtue is best seen in occasions that are adverse.
For the occasions do not make the frailty of a man, but they show what he is.
HOW excellent a means of sanctifying us and of fitting us for Heaven is the exercise of that charity by which we support in ourselves and in others those weaknesses which we cannot correct! For nothing can humble and confound us before God more than a sense of our own miseries; and nothing can be more just than that we should bear in others those things which we would have them support in ourselves. We should, therefore, bear with the tempers of others, and endeavor to give no cause of uneasiness to anyone on account of our own. It is thus, according to St. Paul, we shall carry one another's burdens, and fulfill the law of Jesus Christ, which is a law of charity, meekness, and patience.
HOW true it is, O Lord, that contradictions are most advantageous to a Christian who endeavors to support them with patience and resignation! For they prove and purify his virtue and bring it to perfection. But Thou knowest what difficulty we experience in supporting these trials; and how sensitive we are to everything that opposes our desires. Permit us not, O God, to yield to our feelings; but grant we may sacrifice them for the happiness of pleasing Thee; since to feel much, and not to follow the bent of our feelings, to keep silence when the heart is moved, and to withhold ourselves when we are all but overcome, is the most essential practice, and the surest mark for that truly Christian virtue which is to gain for us eternal happiness. This, O Jesus, we hope to obtain from Thine infinite bounty. Amen.