Tag Archives: Christian Growth

The Danger of Judgment

“Let everyone beware lest he presume to take it upon himself to criticize and condemn other men’s faults without his having been truly touched within by the Holy Spirit in his work. Otherwise he may very easily err in his judgments. Beware, therefore. Judge yourself as seems right to you between yourself and your God and let other men alone.”

—-The Cloud of Unknowing

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God?

—-Romans 2:1-3

The words of Paul in his letter to the Romans and the words of the medieval mystic who wrote THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING are the same. Simply stated, we must be very cautious when we condemn other people. We are about to embark in a strange new world in the coming days. We’ve never been here before, and we’re not sure what it’s going to be like. The whole idea of “social distancing,” wearing masks and being cautious every time we venture from our homes is a strange and rather scary place to be. Our challenge is how we handle it?

As Christians, we can be those that lead the way with generosity, kindness, compassion and care for our fellow man. We can try to observe the guidelines and go forward in this world. We can pray for the finalized solution to come sooner rather than later to this extreme problem that we have. We can help those who have had losses during this time of isolation to bury and mourn their dead. We can support them and lift him up and give them the hope that only Jesus gives. Those are some ways that we can be very positive in the coming weeks and months.

The message of the mystic in THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING and the Apostle Paul gives us fair warning of the possible dark side of our reaction. Let us be determined that we’re not going to criticize, condemn and complain. Let us pray without ceasing that God will deliver us from taking that path that the evil one has designed for us since the Garden. That is, I will do it my way. Such a decision is a slippery slope we walk down when we are frightened by this very deadly unknown we are facing. Let us heed the words of the Medieval Mystic and the Apostle Paul every time we hear ourselves speak or think words of criticism and judgment.

We do this by praying without ceasing. This is an excellent time for you to reboot your prayer life. Perhaps you might consider setting a time for prayer each day. It is possible that you may want to investigate some prayer practices that you have never done before. There are so many ways to pray to God. There are so many ways to be in the presence of God. I’d like to suggest a few in the links below. I hope they might help.


Links on Ways to Pray

Lectio Divina

Daily Bible Reading

The Daily Office

The Jesus Prayer

The Examine


Prayer – LORD, make it possible for me to overcome my fear in the coming weeks and months and not fall into the trap of a critical and judgmental attitude. Let me now lay myself before you as a servant of yours. I ask you today, what service may I render to others? Guide me to look very closely at my faults and short-comings and make self-change my priority. Give me the strength to be an example of what it means to be a Christian. Take away my sin and fear so that I may be strong as I go forward today. Amen

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It Begins With You

“Pray for me.” The old man said to him, “I will have no mercy upon you, nor will God have any, if you yourself do not make an effort and if you do not pray to God.” St. Anthony meant that we should not rely on the prayers of others without having our own prayers and spiritual struggle. Regarding resisting the evil thoughts, St. Anthony advises us saying, “Tire yourself in reading the holy books, as they save you from the evil thoughts”… “Tire yourself in reading the books, and following the commandments, so that the mercy of God comes upon you speedily.”

—– Anthony of Egypt

All of us want the prayers of others as we go about the challenges in our lives however, we often forget that our own prayers are the most important of all. The Monk said plainly, perhaps bluntly, to the inquirer that he cannot have mercy on his soul unless he had first turned it over to God. The one who requested the Monk’s prayer was apparently one who did not pray for himself. In a sense, he was asking for a parole to enter rest. In immigration law, a parole visa is issued to someone when they cannot enter the country on their own but are paroled in under special circumstance. We cannot be paroled into spiritual unity with God but must be worthy on our own. How can this happen?growth 1

Develop a personal relationship with God.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with soliciting the prayers of others. The problem is when we see their prayers as a magic formula for us to get what we desire. There is no such thing as special holy men or prayer formulas that allow us to get the desired results. In reality, climbing a holy mountain does not make us holy. Personal holiness comes with a personal relationship with the Holy One. That relationship is built by prayer and study.

Develop a practice of prayer.

Prayer_an-invitation-to-prayerCommunication is always the starting point of getting to know anyone. Interaction is the key to understanding and relationship. For anything to be of quality there must be consistency. That is why I use the word “practice,” because a practice of prayer means discipline and planning. For our prayer life to truly be genuine, it must be thought out and become a part of us. It matters little how and when you pray as long as you know how and when you will pray. There is no prayer practice that is superior to the other, but each person must develop a way of prayer.

Develop a discipline of study.

The study of the divine revelation of God to man is a must for any follower of Jesus. Anthony says, “Tire yourself in reading the holy books” to keep on the path of holiness. The study of God’s word is a key component in building a strong and healthy relationship with God. Each time you open the Bible something new will emerge even though you have read it many times. That’s what makes it a living word. Just as the scriptural writers were guided by the Holy Spirit, so will it be for you as you develop a discipline of study.

I share these thoughts today with the hope that they can be of some help. Always keep in mind the advice of the Monk to begin inside of yourself as you seek spiritual peace and deliverance. Make the time to pray and study and God will bless you beyond measure.


Prayer

Lord, I know my need and cry out to you to hear me. Guide me as I develop my life in a way that will lead me to be closer to you. Keep my hands steady as I develop better spiritual disciplines. Allow these efforts to be productive for me and all I touch.

Amen

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Filed under Abba Anthony, Desert Fathers