Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

“What is humility, Abba?” the brothers of the skete asked a certain elder.

“Humility, my children,” he answered, “is to forgive another immediately if he offends you, without waiting for him to ask your forgiveness.”

An example of the blind leading the lame would be me writing about humility. But I think I understand what is being said here. When someone is offensive to us, we can get all “how dare you” in their faces, because we, after all, are innocent of blame and we can nurse our wounds, demanding that the offender comes to us and begs our forgiveness because that strokes our egos, telling us we were right to be offended in the first place.

We can do that.  But if we claim to be Christians, how can we make that choice? What do we pray?  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” What do these words mean?  It’s pretty simple, in my opinion.  God will forgive us exactly the way we forgive others. So if we forgive unconditionally, God will forgive unconditionally.

To forgive someone immediately is to love that person unconditionally. To forgive without waiting to be asked means that we put the other person ahead of ourselves.  We put that person’s welfare ahead of our own. It’s loving our neighbor as ourselves.

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