The Devil’s aim here must not be made light of, for he is trying to bring a cooling of charity and love among the sisters, and if he could do this he would be working a great deal of harm. Let us realize my daughters, that true perfection consists in the love of God and of our neighbor, and the more nearer to perfect is our observance of these commandments, the nearer to perfection we shall be. (Teresa of Avila: First Mansions, Chapter Two)
The third strategy of evil is to undermine love. The Devil does this by diverting our attention from love to faultfinding, self-protection, and gossip. We are easily deceived because our unloving actions usually seem right and justified.
Faultfinding: Love is undermined when “the soul goes about looking for trifling faults in others (which sometimes may not be imperfections at all, though perhaps our ignorance may lead us to make the worst of them)”. Faultfinding is an early warning sign we are struggling spiritually and will soon have relationship problems. When we focus on the faults of others our soul “may lose its own peace of mind and perhaps disturb that of others.”
Self-protection: Love is undermined when others, especially leaders, have grave faults and we do not speak up. The deception occurs when the Devil convinces us to be silent in order to protect our reputation as a “spiritual” or “reasonable” person. It is good to seek wise counsel in these situations so we can act from love and wisdom.
Gossip: Love is undermined when we gossip. It’s not whether the information we pass along is true or not — it’s that we passed it on. And it’s not whether the information is a big or little — it’s that we passed it on. “Here, glory be to God, we keep almost continuous silence” is good advice.
Nearly 500 years ago Teresa said we should discuss our concerns, in most cases, only with the person we have an issue with since it is not anyone else’s business. The first time the Bible tells us to love our neighbor is in Leviticus 19.17-18. This is a passage about confronting others so we do not internalize anger or participate in their wrongdoing through silence. Addressing issues directly solves many of our relationship problems and effectively counters the Devil’s strategy of undermining love.
For the First Strategy of Evil: Click Here
For the Second Strategy of Evil: Click Here