We need to realize that it is a duty of ours, as Christians, to always give good example to others. Not that we have to flaunt whatever good thing we have or do, for Christ clearly said also that we should not show off our good deed before men, to be seen by them, lest we lose our reward in heaven. (cfr. Mt 6, 1)
We have to be aware that we always have to give good example to others for the sole purpose of leading others to God. It is to edify others, to encourage them to be holy and to pursue the path of sanctity in an abiding way.
This duty, therefore, should be carried out deliberately. It should somehow be planned and aimed at. It should not just be something incidental or something optional. Of course, this duty should not be done out of pride or vanity, but out of obedience to the will of God who wants to save all men. (cfr. 1 Tim 2, 4)
Thus, Christ warns us never to scandalize others, especially the “little ones,” who can be interpreted not only as children but also as any person whose spiritual life is not yet that well established and strong, and therefore can easily be misled.
“It is inevitable that temptations will come,” Christ said, “but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” (Lk 17, 1-2)
To avoid scandalizing others or causing them to sin, we should focus more on giving good example. That way, we would be most sensitive to our duty not to scandalize others. We would be aware that we are following Christ’s command and will, and not just pursuing our own agenda in life.
Let us hope that we can echo sincerely in our heart what St. Paul once said: “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor 11, 1) This should be the motive and the attitude we have in desiring to give good example to others. It is to imitate Christ, to have his mind, to identify ourselves with his will and ways.
Everyday, we have to come out with a concrete detail to fulfill this duty of giving good example to others. It may just be as little as smiling, or reacting calmly when some disappointment comes our way, or saying something nice about somebody whose faults and mistakes are obvious, or showing compassion to those in difficulty and offering mercy to those who may have done wrong, etc.
Part of our sense of accountability at the end of the day should be to present to God in our examination of conscience the concrete things we have done to give good example to others.
This will surely help us in keeping ourselves in the loop of God’s providence, and away from the erratic dynamics of our wounded flesh, the sinful world and the wiles of the devil. This will sustain our apostolic concern which is an integral part of Christian life.
This duty of giving good example to others should be systematically taught and spread to people as early as when they are still children. Hopefully in time we can have a culture that organically includes this duty that is carried out with the proper motives.
At the moment, we all know that what we have are cases of self-indulgence, pride, vanity and narcissism, as when people show off their good looks, their accomplishments, the places they have visited, the food they are eating, etc.
Let’s hope that this trend is reversed because it is truly corrupting. It is like a sweet poison./WDJ