Tag Archives: Judgment

Sins Run Out

leaking_bucket_RBK01026_edited-1A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which Abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him, saying, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you”. So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug and filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said, “what is this, father?” The old man said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him. 

—-sayings of the desert

I do not believe that comments are necessary on this story. Let me offer this prayer.

Lord help me to understand the nature of the grace that you offer to me. May I not waste my time trying to figure out other people’s sin and faults but know that their forgiveness is already been secured. Let me offer my forgiveness in the same manner as You.  Amen

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The Weight of Judgment

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

judgment1Some 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.

 

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Judgments and Assessments

A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which Abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him, saying, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you”. So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug and filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said, “what is this, father?” The old man said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.

—Sayings of the Desert

Recently I was attending a function with a clergyperson of another denomination, and we began discussing a mutual acquaintance. Quickly the conversation turned somewhat negative and judgmental. After he made what I thought was a rather harsh judgment, I suggested that I didn’t think we should be passing judgment on the man in that manner. His reply was that he was not judging but making an assessment.

North Africa 2007 262 Wadi el Natrun

North Africa  Wadi el Natrun

It doesn’t matter if we call it an assessment or just plain judgment, the monk gives us some direction about this topic. Our sins are forgiven and run out behind us. They are gone! The world would be a much better place if we refrained from making assessments and followed the path of our Savior who came to heal and forgive.

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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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