Kathi and I watched “Of Gods and Men” recently on DVD, and thought it was fabulous. It’s the story of several Trappist monks who struggle for peace and unity in the face of very real danger.

One scene in particular stuck with me. With pressure mounting and tempers flaring, two of the monks get into a verbal exchange resulting in one of them briefly cussing at the other. From a human standpoint, given the circumstances, it’s completely understandable.

What really hit me was the other monk’s response. Rather than reacting in anger, he mutters to himself, “He’s just tired. It’s not his fault.”

Wow.

Most of us are quick to make excuses for ourselves, while often being simultaneously hard on others. Of course, this isn’t anything new – recall Jesus addressing the same phenomenon in the parable of the unforgiving servant (see Matthew 18).

Perhaps this monk’s response can serve as inspiration for us. Rather than making excuses for ourselves and being hard on others, what if we could make excuses for others and be hard on ourselves? Not easy, but as the parable illustrates, well worth striving for.