What Does this Mean?

If a monk does not think in his own heart that he is a sinner, God will not hear him. The brother said, ‘What does this mean, to think in his heart he is a sinner?’ Then the old man said, ‘When someone is occupied with his own faults, he does not see those of his neighbor.’

—-Abba Moses of the Desert

Monk PrayingThis type of theme of careful introspection resonates very loudly in our grudge filled and judgmental society. The poet Anne Currin writes, “You’re so devoted to all your grudges, You cherish them like they’re a prize; You hold them with pride on your pedestal Bursting with bliss as your relationships die.” Many years before the poet wrote those words the people of the desert were pondering how to deal with such things. In this saying the Abba points us directly to our awareness of personal sin and its effect on our behavior toward others.

His advice is quite simple. We are called to believe in our hearts that we are sinners, and sin is our nature. Until we can recognize our nature, it is very difficult to improve our lot. When we turn our energies toward self – improvement we steer away from judgment of others, and towards unity with God. That unity, after all, is our primary goal. Own you sins and ask God to give you the grace to overcome.

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3 Comments

Filed under Abba Moses, Christian Living, Desert Fathers

3 responses to “What Does this Mean?

  1. In my experience, I’ve found it really difficult to live sin-focused. I become introspective and eventually overwhelmed.

    About six months ago I had just had enough…and was really at my wits-end. At that time, I received a fresh understanding of Jesus…and what He wanted me to think about my sin(s). Today I live completely guilt free, full of peace… and now my focus is on Jesus, not self.

    It was impossible for me to improve myself by focusing on myself. However by focusing on Jesus, I started to understand more about Him and this is what changed me.
    *Romans Chapter 4 was an eye opener for me on this.
    *So was this scripture below.
    2 Peter 1:2-3
    2) Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
    3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

    • Thanks for your thoughts. Introspection, for me, is a major facet of my spiritual journey. Grace allows me to live victoriously, while accepting my nature and knowing God’s grace sets me free.

      • Thanks Irvin – I was simply trying to say that I’ve found my “true” nature to be in-Christ and not self. I’ve been so freed by that revelation.

        Blessings Sir!

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