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Metropolitan Naum: On the judgement and condemnation of others

shto e vistinata~+~

This is both a long and wide topic. But let us write down a few thoughts.

Time and time again I wonder about the condemnation of others. Terrible phenomenon. Common illness. An obstacle for any spiritual progress and development. Very sad behaviour. Annulment of love. Falling from Christ. Union with satan. Extreme stupidity.

We are all prone to judge and condemn. But some people realise they are doing it (judge) and they repent, and, there are others as if they are unaware. Some are fighting against this evil, and for some it has become a way of behaving. Hardly anyone is fully free of this behaviour.

There is one thing (weightiness) – to judge within yourself, or in front of one or two people; and it is another thing (weightiness) to judge in public and in front of everyone. It is one thing to know the person that you judge, and it is completely different to not even meet him in real life. It is one thing to have witnessed wrong-doing with your own eyes, and it is another thing to listen to hearsay and second-hand or third-hand information and gossip.

Then it is one thing to judge from the position of being a Christian and within the Church, and it is another thing to judge from the position of an ungodly person within in the Church.

It is well for us to be constantly aware of this demonic trap, because if we only become aware of this demonic phenomenon when others condemn us, in that case, most often, it is an instant response that serves to condemn others.

Many things are overlooked by the one who condemns. Who knows whether we will all realise this. And I wonder where to start. I have to start from somewhere…

First, we overlook, for example, the so-called first light of the mind, which we receive at the beginning of our spiritual life, in the purification of the energy of our mind; a light in which illuminates our weaknesses and a force with which we can correct ourselves only; if we use it to judge, condemn and correct others, that is, in that context, we use only the knowledge that remains of it, then it is already the end of our spiritual development; and fall.

We do not know that only the enlightenment of the mind and the gift of the prayer of the mind in the heart, through which man gains power and strength to penetrate to the depths of his own heart, enable us to penetrate with the same power and strength into the depths of the hearts of our fellow man and get to know them better. Without the enlightenment of the mind we know nothing about the other, about others, even when we “know” them. The enlightened mind does not condemn people even when it knows exactly what kind of people they are, but sympathizes with them.

Second, we expect too much from people. We overlook the fact that every single person is at a certain stage of spiritual development. Some find themselves at the lower levels of the unnatural way of life: religious neurosis, religious personality disorder (psychopathy, sociopathy), psychosis or demonization. Some people, on the other hand, find themselves in the higher stages of the natural way of life: purification of the heart from the passions, enlightenment of the mind – with the gift of the prayer of the mind in the heart, and deification.

We know what to expect from a neurotic person: because he has little control over his thoughts and feelings, he usually expresses that with bad words. From the psychopath or sociopath we know what to expect: because he does not want to control his thoughts and feelings, in addition to bad words, he often expresses that with bad deeds. Not to mention the others (demonised). Entering into a dialogue in order to clarify things, with the last two categories, is in vain.

Third, very simple and normal things are overlooked, as I mentioned: do we personally know or do we not know the person we are placing judgement on.

Usually we do not even know the person personally, and that should be enough for us to realise our wrongdoing (judging) and stop. Especially when we have not seen or heard anything personally. But stupidity would not be stupidity, nor would the demon be a demon, if one stops his judgement and condemnation at this point.

If a person is a public figure, then even without knowing him we can make some assessment of him (not to judge him), but only on the basis of his deeds or written and spoken word – which are usually publicly available, and not on the basis of gossip (“he said this” – “she said that”).

Let me ask you, man, why do you prefer to judge and condemn someone on the basis of gossip, when his works and his word are already available and known? Especially his works, because they speak the most about any person.

Let me answer: out of malice, out of envy, out of projection (evil projection out of one’s heart) and out of demonic possession.

Most often, we in the Church judge public figures (Bishops), and the official data about them is most easily available to us. And if the man is not a public figure and we do not know him personally, then we know nothing about him, and then we make big mistake and fall by our act of condemnation.

For public figures there are many other circumstances which make it difficult for us to make true assessment about them, for example: how do we know what kind of relationships man has entered into and what kind of relationships (souls) he has to manage and balance, locally, regionally, internationally and globally? The higher position a person holds in the society and higher he is on the ladder of the spiritual development, the more people and demons he attracts around him and the more complicated it is to make true assessment about him. It is, simply, inaccessible and incomprehensible to others.

Fourth, judgement and condemnation define us, not the one we judge. It is well known that judgement and condemnation are often projections of us (what we are) onto others, and less often envy and jealousy – because envy and jealousy require some success in life, which you would compare to the success of the one you envy, and you have no success whatsoever. Unless you consider it a success to open your own profile or some kind of blog on social media. Thus, the disobedient one sees disobedience in others, the fornicator sees fornication in others, the schismatic sees in others a schismatic, the heretical mind sees in the other a heretic, the traitor of Christ sees in the others traitors, and so on.

Briefly, remember at least these four things:

  1. Why we are given the first light as a gift;
  2. Do not expect much from people, rather, from ourselves;
  3. Before we say anything about anyone, let us ask ourselves a simple question – “Have we ever met that person in our life and what do we know about him?” Not to mention whether we have seen or heard something with our own eyes or with our own ears;
  4. That judgement and condemnation define us, not the one we judge.

Judgment and condemnation is “par excellence” the work of the antichrist. It makes people most-like himself. The God-Man Christ is our sole judge, and those who judge and condemn put themselves in His place. Judgement is a prophecy of the coming of the antichrist in the world, it is the mystery of the evil which is already operating in the world (see: 2 Thess. 2: 7).

Nor can the supposed, preventive protection of the Orthodox faith be an excuse for judgement and condemnation. You will say that you do not judge, but that you criticize and protect. But such a feat also requires enlightenment of the mind – with the prayer of the mind in the heart, and obviously you do not have it. Benevolent criticism requires compassion, and compassion requires enlightenment; the uncivilised (with many personal insults) and self-confident way of addressing people shows that all this (compassion, enlightenment) is certainly missing.

Only a common service, the joint offering of a bloodless sacrifice with different-believers, and the apparent deliberate detachment from the dogmas of the Orthodox faith is a justifiable cause of rebellion against the established order – without enlightenment of the mind. I have mentioned only these two things, because the interpretation of the canons of the Church, however, requires enlightenment of the mind. So, I even strongly urge you to be careful that the first two things do not happen – communion with heretics and deviation from the teaching of the Orthodox faith; that is, as believers, you are obliged to be careful even without encouragement; and for the third one – the implementation of the sacred canons in practice – there is someone to be attentive and take care.

Is there hope? I do not know; lack of knowledge does not know that it does not know.

Most-Holy Bogorodica (Birth-giver-of-God), save us!


Metropolitan of Strumica Naum


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