When you are struck by other people’s suffering, and the torment of their souls, so that you are induced to pray for them with a pitying and contrite heart, pray to God to have mercy upon them, and to forgive them their sins, as you would pray for the forgiveness of your sins – that is, implore God with tears to pardon them; likewise pray for the salvation of others as you would pray for your own salvation.
St. John of Kronsatdt
“My Life in Christ”
One of the fathers once asked his Spiritual Father to pray for him as he often fell into the sin of judging others. The young monk would often say how wrong and sinful it was for this or that parent to be negligent in the rearing of their children. At other times he would complain about the seeming inattentiveness during services. And finally, the young monk would utter harsh words concerning certain members of the monastic brotherhood.
The spiritual father wisely counselled him with the words of the Saviour:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine
Let us ask for forgiveness for judging others
own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Truly, how can we correct another of sin when are possibly a greater sinner than they are? Piety and godliness begin with the condemnation of self. In so doing, we learn to see ourselves for who we really are. Having come to this understanding we are most fearful to lay any condemnation upon the brethren as we accept that we are more lowly, more sinful, more guilty than they.
Let us put the words of Saint John into practice: rather than judge another’s fault, let us pray for their weakness; rather than accuse, let us forgive; and rather than condemn, let us beg our Lord for mercy that He not condemn us.