Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

“Beware, Christian, never to wrong your brother, lest your prayer become unacceptable before God. If, nevertheless, you wrong someone, your prayer is not acceptable. The sighs of the one wronged do not allow it to reach heaven. If you learn that someone is speaking ill things of you and he should come at some time to visit you, do not show him in your mannerisms that you know of all this and that you are upset with him. Appear to him cheerful, with a calm face and a sweet way, so that your prayer might be bold before God,” a certain Abba advises.”

Something that has long disturbed me is the failure of people, especially Christians, to take responsibility for their actions. Is it really that hard to say “I was wrong.  I am sorry.  Please forgive me?  I really don’t think so.

Jesus tells us that when we want to come to the altar and realize that we have offended someone, to go and make it right before approaching the altar.

This unnamed Abba tells us that when we have been in the wrong, and we do not take responsibility, the consequences are severe. Our prayers are not heard. Surely that is excellent motivation for taking action?

Conversely, this same Abba advises us about how to behave when someone is dissing us behind our backs. We are not to confront that person. We are to show that person a cheerful face. We are not to seek revenge or offer payback. Instead, we are to be cheerful, we don’t tell the other person how we feel. Because if we take this approach, our prayers are heard.

This goes against everything we’ve heard about self-esteem, doesn’t it? What I’ve read about self-esteem tells me to stand up for myself and don’t allow someone to get away with it.

I think the Abba suggests that we have more self-esteem when we allow the other person to deal with the other person’s issues instead of dealing with them for the other person.

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