The old men used to say, “there is nothing worse than passing judgment.”
They said of Abba Macarius that he became as it is written a god upon earth, because just as God protects the world, so Abba Macarius would cover the faults that he saw as though he did not see them, and those which he heard as though he did not hear them.
——sayings of the desert
Some may think that the monk’s way of handling the faults of others is pure denial. I find that idea very realistic, but allow me to add a few layers to this saying on judgment. How much time do you spend agonizing over the faults of others? Do you use the faults of others as an excuse for your own bad behavior? Would admonishing others bring you any closer to God?
A wise person once said, “Become the change you want to see in the world.” People spend untold hours worrying about the behavior of others. Such worries distract us from our work, our families, our spiritual development, and, in some cases, have an impact on our well-being. The wise Native Americans have a saying “Tend your own hoop.” Tending your own hoop means taking care of your own problems and allowing others to do the same.
Over the years I have heard many stories of people who have fallen into hard times and trouble that begin like this, “well, he fell into the wrong company.” Excuses like falling into the wrong company are very lame when it comes to the fate of our souls. To judge ourselves or our love ones in the mirror of the behavior of others is a very dangerous and slippery slope. We should look ourselves in the mirror and ask for God’s guidance every day.
People receive undue pleasure as they admonish others. Such behavior gives a rush of power and confidence. The problem is that all this is at the expense of someone else. When we pray, meditate, worship or do holy reading we are seeking to draw closer to God. When we find fault and become a staunch defender of the faith we spend our time on earthly plain
The hymn “Higher Ground” suggests to us.
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plain than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.