Why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. … All of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Romans 14:10–12
The waitress asked Descartes if he’d like another cup of coffee. He said, “I think not.” Then he disappeared. Our self-perception colors our perception of those around us. When we perceive ourselves as special creations of The Creator, we can love others in the same way we love ourselves. When we perceive our own finitude and limitations, we can be patient and compassionate when we encounter mistakes and incompetence in others. Civility is possible when we recognize our own low estate and understand that together we are all handicapped in some way. Civility is possible when we refuse to regard ourselves as innately and uniquely superior. When we perceive ourselves as guilty of failing to honor God by trusting him, and of failing to express gratitude for the grace we’ve received, we won’t despise our neighbors for faults we see in them. Civility is possible when we comprehend and appreciate how despicable we are; it’s hard to look down our noses in contempt if we’re aware of how contemptuous we are. Civility is possible as we realize we must give an account to God of whether or not we have usurped his authority to judge. When we perceive ourselves as beneficiaries of Jesus’ death and resurrection, our civility celebrates the justice and the mercy of the Most High.
Righteous Judge, open our eyes to all that we are because you sustain us by your powerful word. Open our hearts to respond appropriately to the truth we see in the people around us.
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