An Egyptian brother came to Abba Zeno in Syria, and accused himself to the old man about his temptations. Fill with admiration, Zeno said, ‘The Egyptians hide the virtues they possess and ceaselessly accuse themselves of faults they do not have, while the Syrians and Greeks pretend to have virtues they do not have, and hide the faults of which they are guilty.’
——-sayings of the Desert
One the hardest tasks of the Christ walk is the recognition of our own faults and failures. We find ourselves so wrapped up in our journeys that we often see the sins of others and overlook our own. The humble Egyptian, on the other hand, looked directly into his own soul and made confession. Jesus states in scripture, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” This pattern of self-denial, as exhibited by the Egyptian, is the model for all Christians.
Interestingly enough Abba Zeno gives us another little morsel of truth here as well. Our inability to perceive the reality of our circumstances and the hiding of virtues is played in contrast to the overstatement of our place in life. In short, the Abba saw the “greener grass” in Egypt while giving a blanket condemnation to his home region. We must never forget that God has given all that we need, and it is our calling to live into the opportunities that surround us.