Some people tell me that they are scandalized because they see many things wrong in the Church. I tell them that if you ask a fly, “Are there any flowers in this area?” it will say, “I don’t know about flowers, but over there in that heap of rubbish you can find all the filth you want.” And it will go on to list all the unclean things it has been to.
Now, if you ask a honeybee, “Have you seen any unclean things in this area?” it will reply, “Unclean things? No, I have not seen any; the place here is full of the most fragrant flowers.” And it will go on to name all the flowers of the garden or the meadow.
You see, the fly only knows where the unclean things are, while the honeybee knows where the beautiful iris or hyacinth is.
As I have come to understand, some people resemble the honeybee and some resemble the fly. Those who resemble the fly seek to find evil in every circumstance and are preoccupied with it; they see no good anywhere. But those who resemble the honeybee only see the good in everything they see. The stupid person thinks stupidly and takes everything in the wrong way, whereas the person who has good thoughts, no matter what he sees, no matter what you tell him, maintains a positive and good thought.
-The above paragraphs are taken from Elder Paisios’ Spiritual Struggle, pages 29-30.
PROPERLY UTILIZING OUR CREATIVE ENERGY
The most important traits for us to ascertain in this life are humility and love – neither of which are possible when we are being critical of others.
Each one of us has a great deal of creative energy within us; usually it is used to justify our thoughts and behavior and to criticize others. However, we should make an effort every day to use that creative energy to think of excuses for others when they annoy or bother us. This is challenging at first and takes a conscious effort because our minds are stuck in the “rut” of judgment.
When one acts hurtfully, we must try to do as our Lord and say, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Did the Roman soldiers not know they were crucifying a man? Certainly they did! However, they did not fully understand their actions or else they would not have partaken in crucifying the Son of God.
With that in mind, let us strive to have good thoughts of others, even when their behavior is bothersome. An aid to good thoughts of others is maintaining awareness of our own sins and shortcomings. By doing so, we will begin down the path of love and humility.
STANDING UP FOR TRUTH
None of this is meant to say that we cannot combat falsehood and heresy. But when we do so, we should have already started on this path of love and humility. If one is not aware of their own faults, they can too easily slip into a self-righteous condemnation of anyone who does not think like themselves. We should also be sure to address only the message that others give and not attack the person. Those who hurt others or fall into falsehood are, to some extent, victims of the devil’s schemes. If we are not filled with divine love for that person, and we cannot see how the devil is using them, then it is best we remain silent or else we can become diabolic as well.
Let us be honeybees and not flies!