On Hope and Repentance | Why we Should Not Despair - Part 3

The criterion for whether or not we are saved and if we are to see the light of the heavenly sun when we are in the mire of sin, is not to judge. However, we do judge. Therefore, what happens now? And when we say that we judge, we don’t just mean with our mouth. I see someone and I say: He goes to church but do you see how lazy he is at work? If that is how you think about someone then that is how God will treat you. He will give you a spiritual death and you will not be able to open your eyes, nor straighten your hunch. You will be going to church and when you get older, you will have to be dragged there. Then you will also be deaf and will not be able to hear and you will be saying: Oh dear, when I had the ability to change, I did not do so. Let us see how I am going to live out my days. In this manner, the person who feels that he is something important, will find himself in a worse state than the unrepentant sinner.

“Rather, he will marvel at God’s compassion, and will be full of gratitude towards his Benefactor, and so may receive many other blessings as well.”

The unrepentant sinner does not look at the sins committed by others; he does not look to condemn or judge them but he marvels at “God’s compassion” and asks himself: How does God tolerate me? Previously, the saint said: Is God “incapable of saving your soul?” Is God not able to save your soul even when you are in a state of chaos? This phrase shows us, firstly, that God is almighty. Secondly, that He can employ many means to save us. When someone is drowning, you try to give them your hand, or you put out a stick for them to grab on to. But what can you do if that person does not want to be saved? And yet, while you may not be able to save him, God can because He employs many means. Whereby, he grabs him from above and from beneath, and uses every means, and so God saves the unrepentant. God is a skilled technician. He is “crafty”, smart, and finds the means to save. We find all the means to judge and condemn.

Marvelling God’s compassion, the unrepentant sinner, the immoral person, the prostitute, the criminal, the murderer, the fornicator, the adulterer becomes “full of gratitude towards His Benefactor, and so may receive many other blessings as well.” The greatest gift that we can give God is not to notice what other people do; to cover them, and to look squarely at ourselves as the sinners. Also, to be thankful and to express our gratitude towards the Benefactor. There are people who, without wanting to be, are in the mire of sin. They did not choose to sin but they inherited the sin from their grandfather or their father. Or they came across it when they were young children, at kindergarten, primary school, high school, in their social interactions, in the teacher that led them astray, in the priest who was tough and did not help them, or when someone was supposedly just and wanted everyone to be just. There are many reasons for a person being led to sin. These great sinners are full of gratitude towards God because He allows them to continue to live in this life.

“And receive many other blessings as well”. We must take note of this. All of us, including monastics and those who consider themselves to be good Christians, spiritual people, who from a young age loved God, went to Sunday School, fellowship, and would sing the words: “I yearn to live together with my Christ”, what passions we hide! However, sinners “receive many other blessings as well”. For example, you see a faithful professional, who goes to school and preaches Christ’s justice. But a moment comes when someone does something to him and the faithful person judges him with the scales of righteousness and punishes him with one month leave without pay. How will his family make ends meet? How will this person stand in society? What will he say to his children? How will his students then see him? The faithful person did not consider this. He feels secure that he has been saved because he is good and because he goes to church every week, he may even go to vespers on Saturday, and he may even receive Holy Communion every Sunday. He is okay with God; he feels that everything is well and taken care of. Yes, but what about the other person’s sighing and heavy-heartedness? Do you consider how the other person feels? Have you weighed his sin against God’s humility and fathomless love? And with His long-suffering, which granted you the ability to be a good and righteous and Christian professional? Or do you condemn him with the strictest of justice? Do you want righteousness from God or mercy? Does he not need mercy?

Or we come to the monastery. We say that monastic life is about purity, a life of worship, prayer and we try to be diligent in these matters. However, as soon as one of the brethren asks something of us, we say no to them. Why say, no? Is there not, yes? Or he asks you for something and you say, I am tired, now. This is harshness, especially when we make judgements and condemn, even if it is only with our minds. Our heavenly God sees these because He is ‘mind’, and He enters our mind and discovers them. On the contrary, you meet with a sinner and notice that he is merciful to the poor.

He interacts in a humble manner with the other person and he is polite with you, very polite. If you make a mistake, he will forgive you; he will not constantly remind you about it. While we, the virgins, the ever-virgins, the pure, the worshippers of God, who do six hours of prayer-rope every night, as soon as something happens that we do not agree with, we condemn the other person. But whom will God condemn? The one with the sins? The “crafty” God will manage to save him, but he will not be able to save me, the righteous one, because I did not see God in the eyes of my brother; in the passion, in the weakness, in the sin of my brother.

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