Judge Not, Part 2 – Coming to the Center

I have never met a person who thinks of judgment as a virtue.  Even the most critical people, who seem to thrive on criticizing others, will often become defensive when they are on the receiving end of a stinging remark.

Obviously, judgement is prohibited, but why?  How does it harm us?  It all has to do with oneness, which is one of the final prayers our Lord had for His disciples (and us) while on this earth (John 17).

To explain, I will provide an illustration that I’ve adapted from Abba Dorotheos of Gaza, a 6th century saint and desert father of our church:

Imagine something that is much like a wheel with numerous incomplete spokes that can grow and move from the perimeter to the center.  In the center is Christ, who beckons all of us to move toward him.  The only path to this center is love.  One spoke symbolizes our lives, the other spokes represent our neighbors.  As all of the spokes move closer to the center, they also move closer to one another.  It is impossible to move toward the center without simultaneously coming together with the other spokes. Continue reading Judge Not, Part 2 – Coming to the Center

Judge Not, Part 1 – Making Excuses

Perhaps one of the things we all hate the most is being judged by someone else.  It gets under our skin, makes our blood boil, and hurts us deeply, especially if it is someone whom we trusted.  When we feel that someone is judging us, even for something we can admit was wrong, a multitude of thoughts will flood the mind, “You’re not being fair,” or “If you only knew all of the facts then you wouldn’t judge me,” or “The Bible says not to judge others.”

Yet all of us are guilty of this sin, whether or not we realize it.  While we are walking through the city, driving down the road, or in church on Sunday, we are probably forming all sorts of “little” judgments about other people.  Such judgments usually stay in our heads, so we think they have little or no consequence.  However, Abba Dorotheos of Gaza warns us, I am always telling you that bad habits are formed in the soul by these very small things…” [1] Continue reading Judge Not, Part 1 – Making Excuses

The Desert Fathers on Judging and How to Treat Others

1024px-Righteous_Syncletica_of_Alexandria_(Menologion_of_Basil_II)If you have decided to embark on the journey of deepening your faith and your connection with God, you will probably meet resistance on the path of peace very soon.

Amma Theodora, one of the Desert Mothers taught the following:

You should realize that as soon as you intend to live in peace, at once evil comes and weighs down your soul through accidie*, faintheartedness, and evil thoughts. It also attacks your body through sickness, debility, weakening of the knees and all the members. It dissipates the strength of soul and body, so that one believes one is ill and no longer able to pray. But if we are vigilant, all these temptations fall away.

I share that quote to encourage you to stay strong in this fight against evil. As soon as you decide you are going to attempt to live a life free of judging others, somebody will do something to annoy you, hurt you, or test you in some way. It is not that person’s fault, but rather it is God allowing your resolve to be tested. Continue reading The Desert Fathers on Judging and How to Treat Others