Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

To know all is to forgive all



If our hearts condemn us, we know that God
is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.—1 John 3:20

The proverb “To know all is to forgive all” is something that I have pondered over for many years. From experience, even on some minor happenings in my life, I have found that if angry, once I know more about the situation the less I am bothered by it. We do it all the time I would suppose. For instance, if we know that someone is suffering from some form of mental illness, or if they struggle with controlling their anger, we are more prone to understanding and compassion. If we do not know what the man or woman is struggling with, then it is easy to be harsh and unforgiving.

I do think that it is easy to assume that those around me or in some way freer than I am. I know I fail, but I know of my inner pressures and how hard it is to change and grow. It takes many new beginnings to stay on a certain path. Yet with others, I may forget that about them and demand instant change and perfection.

If the more we know and understand, the more compassionate we become; what about how God sees us. If the Lord sees everything in each soul and knows every detail of their lives, even going back generations, perhaps this should be a source of hope and comfort for us. Not leading to presumption, but instilling trust in the Lord’s compassion for all.

There is a reason we are told by the Lord, no we are commanded not to judge on the soul level. Actions, yes, they can be judged, intent and inner freedom, we can’t. From what Jesus said about judging another’s worth, or the state of their soul, is dangerous ground, for it shows the state of the one judging.

Even then, I know nothing really about the depths of anyone's inner being, even myself. In 1 John 3:20, it states that even if our hearts condemn us, yet God is greater than our hearts. So in our own lives, God knows all, we don’t, hence we should always trust in his mercy and compassion. This will encourage us to continue in spite of our many ‘start over’s’…..we trust and begin again. We look to the Lord, his love, not to ourselves.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery


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