Today: December 14 2018
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Do not judge

Do not judge

Tags: Religion, Christianity

Christ is also a sinner. V. Polenov. 1888.

Very much I ask you: do not condemn anyone, this is the easiest way not to be condemned in the next century.
From the letters of Hegumen Nikon (Vorobyov)

We all know well the gospel commandment not to condemn. But as the experience of our life shows, it is we who most often break it. Our attention and spiritual gaze are constantly turned on the lives of others and their actions. The last thing we want is to strictly and carefully watch ourselves. It is noticed that we perceive the mistakes of other people from the position of judges, and our own sins are always like lawyers. It is more interesting to evaluate the behavior of others and judge them - this is not the case only for the majority of non-believers, but also for many of us.

I will give an example. On the confession to the priest there are people - very different. Most are adults, but there are also a few young ones. After an elderly woman, which the priest quickly quickly confessed, a young pretty girl comes up. With her, the priest communicates much longer. People in the queue have a natural reaction: the beautiful girl, the young one - "our father was carried away, he's a real person with whom he does not exist ..." And everything was explained differently. This girl suffered from a speech defect, stammered and very slowly and excitedly called her sins. Therefore, the conversation with her was so prolonged. And some people have already hastened to condemn the priest.

A negative experience is necessary to a person and is often useful. Knowing your own mistakes, a Christian recognizes his limitations and the inability to correctly see someone else's life. He realizes that he can be wrong. For an honest man, mistakes are needed, they teach humility and help fight condemnation.

Often, the condemnation occurs in the family life, in the circle of the closest people, those whom we, we think, are most in love. Recently heard such a story. The woman brought home for her daughter two large and very beautiful apples. The girl gladly took apples and in front of her mother at first bit off one. Mom was waiting for her daughter to offer her a second apple. But she bit him too. In the eyes of her mother there were tears: she so wanted attention and love from her daughter. She thought that she could not teach her the most important thing - kindness and compassion. But the conviction of the child was ... hasty. When the girl swallowed the second piece, she handed her mother one of the napkins and said: "Mommy, take this apple: it's sweeter than the other." This real story teaches us not to rush to the conclusions and assessments of others, but to try patiently "to bear the hardships of each other." Man is a constantly changing creature, and one must believe that in each of us, sooner or later, the best spiritual qualities will unfold.

"Do not believe yourself" is the golden rule of asceticism. Do not believe those thoughts that represent people on the worst side

In the fight against conviction, it is very important to keep track of your thoughts. It is necessary for a person to have a special spiritual "filter" that will detain all that is sinful and impure - that which fell into the soul and begins to defile a person through thoughts and feelings. It's about attending to your inner life and - what's important - about not trusting your thoughts. "Do not believe yourself" is the golden rule of asceticism. It was performed by so many Christians and through it reached the holiness of life. Do not believe those thoughts that show people from the worst side and lead to the sin of condemnation. It takes a great internal effort to turn a blind eye to the shortcomings of people and see their best qualities. Such an ecclesiastical work the Elder Paisius of the Holy Trinity called "the art of good thought."

I will illustrate this with a well-known example, which shows three different views on the same person. Once, three brothers, caught at night in the field, saw a lonely traveler. "It's a thief, he went out to work at night," thought the first. "Apparently, this person is going on a date with a woman to sin with her," - decided the second. "Undoubtedly, this wanderer is on his way to the next city, where there is a big monastery, in order to meet the Christian holiday in the morning," the third brother judged. It's easy to guess that each of them measured his own standards. The same happens in spiritual and everyday life, when we evaluate the actions of people around us and trust our thoughts.

Not only in the metropolis, but also in small towns, we often see people in a state of intoxication, poorly dressed, begging for alms. Next to us live down to the very bottom of the social ladder, lost their jobs, forgotten by their own children, betrayed by their beloved spouses ... And there are those who are on compulsory treatment, are registered with the police, wander around, and spend years in jails. All of them live on the verge of despair, and sometimes suicide. Some of them cross this terrible trait. Can we condemn them? Do we have any right to this? The answer begs one: no and once again no. As the ancient men used to say, before you reproach anyone for anything, put on his shoes, walk his path, stumble over all his stones and carry all the hardships he suffered! Surely after this we will not want to condemn the one who was terribly guilty in our eyes a minute ago!

Avfa Dorotheus describes the story [1], when two small girls slavers were sold to different women. One girl was bought by a good widow, and another by a whore. Each brought up the baby in its own way. The widow - in the fear of God and godliness, the other taught debauchery and sin. The mystery of God is before us. Who can explain this? One girl over the years has learned about God and eternal life, the other has never seen or heard anything good, but only one bad and vulgar. How is it possible for both girls to be tried in the same court?

The sin of condemnation is closely related to curiosity. You need to be less interested in how others live

The sin of condemnation is closely connected with such a disease of our soul as curiosity. You need to be less interested in how others live, do not waste valuable internal energy and strength on it. Curiosity always gives rise to embarrassment from someone else's life, so a person necessarily loses his peace of mind. The vision of the best leads first to envy, which is defined as "sorrow for the welfare of the neighbor". And then envy gives an impulse for the development of the sin of condemnation. Look closely at people who do not blame anyone: they live strictly and not absent-mindedly. They do not ask much about someone else's life, they try not to see both the shortcomings and the successes of their neighbors. We are very weak to, according to the apostle Paul, "rejoice with those who rejoice" (cf. Rom. 12: 15). We are jealous for the most part of the joys of others. But the shortcomings of the nearer few of us are covered with magnanimity - the majority falls into condemnation. Hence we make the correct conclusion: you need to keep your feelings, especially your eyes and ears, to fight with curiosity and less to gossip about the lives of others.

I propose a story that confirms what has been said. One family was forced to change housing. Moving to a new place, the wife did not change the old habit of looking out the window at other people. One day she was surprised to notice that her neighbor had hung dry dirty laundry. To see this was rather strange, and the woman immediately condemned the lazy and slovenly neighbor. The same story lasted for several days: dirty laundry was hung out again and again in the courtyard, and this again and again gave birth to the sin of condemnation. One day on a sunny day, a woman exclaimed to her husband: "Look: today absolutely clean clothes are hanging in the neighbor's yard!" To which the husband sadly replied: "No, just today I got up early in the morning and washed our window!"

As much as it would be desirable, that from mouth of Christians never was heard the slightest condemnation in address of even the most bad people. The ancient Jewish wisdom says: "Justify everyone." This means that you do not need to seek confirmation of your bad thoughts about a person, but, on the contrary, you have to take care to understand it and justify it in your heart.

If we exercise in this, then the ailment of condemnation will weaken in our soul. Condemnation as a passion will cease to torment. The suffering that was born from this passion will cease. The gospel commandment not to condemn, like any other, is capable at its execution to give a person inner peace and spiritual joy. The fulfillment of the commandment through the work of self-coercion is always a small victory over oneself, and such victories are always committed together with Christ, "who is near". Otherwise, we will reap the fruits of our disbelief in God and suffer. How small children suffer that do not obey adults.

From my childhood, I recall the story that I propose to conclude our conversation. Once on a hot summer day, our good neighbor, Uncle Sasha, drove up to our house, who always drove us, children, on a motorcycle with a stroller. He pointed to the exhaust pipe glistening in the sun, and said kindly: "She's very hot, do not touch her." However, as soon as he entered the house, I ran to the motorcycle and touched my bare foot to the forbidden pipe. In one second, having received a burn from the hot metal, I spun on the spot and rushed headlong home.

Here is the question: could I condemn someone in my burn? I was clearly told: do not touch, otherwise you will be hurt. And it happened. But if the violation of the obvious laws of the physical world usually leads to the suffering of our body, then breaking the laws of the spiritual harms and hurts our immortal soul. And she is our only one. What has been said is more than relevant in regard to the sin of condemnation, with which we will fight with God's help.

[1] See his Instruction 6-e: On the non-judgment of the neighbor.

Archpriest Andrei Ovchinnikov
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