All the days of the oppressed are miserable, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. - Proverbs 15:15 HCSB

A young visitor once asked a village elder. "Sir, I am thinking of moving here. What are the people like?"

The old man replied, "What were the people like where you come from?"

"Oh my!" replied the young man. "They were crooks every one! They were thieves and cattle rustlers, hard hearted and tight fisted."

The old man thoughtfully answered, "That is exactly the kind of people you will find here too." The visitor left the village never to return.

Later, another man came to investigate the village. He also approached the village elder. "Sir, I am thinking of moving here. What are the people like?" he asked.

The old man considered the visitor and asked the same question, "What were the people like where you come from?"

"Well," the young man instantly responded. "They were the kindest, gentlest, most generous people you could ever meet! I will miss them very much."

The old man smiled a wise and gentle smile, "Those are exactly the same kind of people you will find here."

Our attitudes influence how we perceive life. If we are paranoid by nature, then we will see conspiracies in every circumstance. A deceitful person will tend to accuse others of lying. A person with a sensuous spirit will tend to accuse others of sensuousness. Think about it. What does a woman who was, as a teenager, morally loose, the most concerned about with her teenage daughter? What accusation does she often bring?

This is a vital principle to understand when dealing with people, or in understanding ourselves. We need to be very careful about accusing people. As often as not, we are revealing more of ourselves than we might wish.

Jesus taught, "Do not judge, so that you won't be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."[1] When we are quick to condemn others, accusing them of things for which we have a serious lack of evidence, then we may be revealing something of our own character. Wise people will know things about us that we may not want them to know.

The psychological concept of projection is essential to being able to deal with difficult people in our lives - you know, those negative, critical people that are always accusing us of improper motives or poor methods. When we see that the very things they condemn us for are things of which they are most guilty, then we can look on them with pity. That pity should progress to compassion and patience.

Hopefully, when our view has changed from frustration to compassion, we will begin seeing that compassion reflected in those around us.

[1] Matthew 7:1-2