[The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.
Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?”] (Jn. 10:31-32)
Why is our first response anger when someone pricks our conscience or brings to our attention one of our flaws? At this point in John’s Gospel Jesus has worked several miracles, forgiven sins, and well, convicted His contemporary religious leaders of their faults.
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” are the first words out of Jesus’s mouth when He begins His public ministry (Mk. 1:15). This is a call for the holiness of all people, but it really begins to rub the religious leaders the wrong way especially as Jesus continues to call the Pharisees and scribes out of their legalistic religiosity. Soon this sentiment in their hearts grows into a furious rage so much so that they again try to stone Jesus in our Gospel reading today.
Often I think we act the same way to those who spur us onto holiness, and to those who call us to something more. It’s much easier to fly off the handle than to listen with patience to a correction. Maybe their observation is legitimate and maybe their assessment is not, or maybe their words have a bit of truth beneath them. The bottom line is we should learn what not to do from Jesus’s contemporaries. When we are confronted with a critique of our actions we ought to graciously endure it as Jesus endured His cross.
Here is a good strategy I’ve found that works well for me when another calls me to greater holiness.
First, patiently listen to the critique and thank the individual for bringing this concern to your attention.
Second, take at least 5 minutes to pray about it. Use this time to calm down and honestly reflect with Jesus as to whether or not this individual’s assessment has any truth to it.
Third, if you’re still upset talk with a trusted friend about it. Do not gossip or bad mouth your critic, but lean on your friend for support and their own assessment of the critique.
If the observation of the individual is NOT legitimate…
Finally, forgive the individual and continue doing what you’re doing.
If the observation of the individual IS legitimate…
Next, make the necessary changes in your life.
Finally, if you can bring yourself to, go thank the individual who had the courage to call you to greater holiness.