Experience has shown that it is wrong to accuse and condemn someone without letting him defend himself. As also the sacred Gospel says: “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (Jn. 7:51 ). If we are not attentive, many sins of condemning others heap up within us, and then repentance is needed. How often a person repents because he spoke! Let us bear in mind the words of Abba Arsenios: “I have often repented for speaking, but I have never repented for keeping silent”. If we are often deceived by the sense of touch, how much more so we are by people’s words. Therefore, much attention is needed, for the devil prowls around roaring to devour us (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8 ).
A Christian ought to be like the many-eyed Cherubim, for evil has multiplied greatly, especially the sin of condemnation, which is a common as “bread and cheese”. May God cleanse us and sanctify us for His glory. “Do not let the sun go down on the wrath of your brother” (cf. Eph. 4:26 ).
That is, let no one be angry and enraged against his brother past the setting of the sun. have you heard about that brother who was negligent and lazy, who did not go to the all-night vigils and did not do his duties, whom the brethren knew to be a negligent monk? When he fell ill and the hour of his death drew near, the brethren gathered to hear something beneficial, or to comfort him, or in case he wanted to say something to them, but they saw him joyful, cheerful. One brother was scandalized and said, “What is this we see in you, brother? We see that you are joyful even though you are approaching death. But we have the thought that you were not a violent monk, so how do you have such courage and a cheerful face? How do you justify yourself?” “Yes, brethren”, he said, “indeed I was a negligent person and I did not fulfill my duties. But I achieved one good thing, by the grace of God: not to condemn any brother and not to scandalize anyone; and never did I let my heart have something against any brother of the monastery when the sun set. And inasmuch as I did not judge any brother, I believe that God will not judge me either, for He said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Mt. 7:1 ) and since I did not judge, I will not be judged”. The brethren marveled and said, “Brother, you found the way of salvation very easily”. And the brother died with much joy. Do you see how the Fathers struggled and how they found the way of salvation?
Elder Ephraim of Arizona