François Fénelon: Charitable and Tender

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Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3

“Nothing will make us so charitable and tender to the faults of others as by self-examination thoroughly to know our own.”

François Fénelon (1651-1715) French archbishop and theologian in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 48.

Want to grow in generosity toward others who are thoroughly imperfect people? Undergo thorough self-examination. Since making a video of your day is probably not an option, pause at the end of each day to reflect on your interaction with others.

Were you patient, kind, generous, and merciful? Be the gracious behavior you want others to imitate. I have room for growth to be more “charitable and tender” toward others. You too? If you are too hard on others, it may be that you are too hard on yourself.

Thorough self-examination grows humility and empathy. When we realize the love and forgiveness we have in Christ, and the grace lavished on us when we were undeserving, we become more merciful and generous to others. God, make us charitable and tender.