From the Pastor..May 2018

May 7, 2018 by

The early monastics of the Egyptian desert, in their great spiritual wisdom, taught that a judgmental attitude was one of the worst passions, preventing us from loving as God would have us do. If we keep in mind that they defined passions as obsessive habits, emotions, or thoughts that blind us from seeing as God sees and prevent us from loving, we can understand why they viewed judgmental attitudes so severely.

By judgmental, they did not mean we could raise children or teach others without using judgment and discipline.  Monastics usually went to the desert to learn from an Abba or Amma, willingly submitting to their training.  Abba Macarius said to another Abba, who asked for advice in this, “’Correct and judge justly those who are subject to you, but judge no one else.’”[i]  Nor did they mean that the legal system in society should be done away with, although they were sure acting as a judge was incompatible with monastic life.  Rather, Roberta Bondi says, they opposed “the self-righteous belief that moral or doctrinal purity takes precedence over everything else, and the corresponding belief that good Christians ought to be God’s police.”[ii]  Such exclusive and judgmental acts can destroy communities within the Body of Christ.


The Abbas and Ammas found critical, complaining, and nagging behavior just as destructive to sharing life in a community of love. They considered being continually critical, even in small ways, to be a sickness, which creates sickness in the receiver.  We know today that those within a church or a family with such continually critical behavior can be left seriously wounded by it.  The Abbas warned repeatedly against gossip, too, which can be equally deadly to love.


In our modern times, we claim that love blinds because we believe that we only see people as they really are when we see them at their worst.  But the early monastics found this contrary to reason.  (For them, God-given reason serves love).  They thought the opposite:  we see people as they actually are only when we see them through the tender and compassionate eyes of God.[i]  They realized that it is the passions, such as judgmentalism, which blind us, not love.


Next time, we will hear from the Abbas how we may be healed of our judgmentalism.



Betsy Caudill




[i] Bondi, To Love as God Loves: Conversations with the Early Church (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1987), p. 61.

[i] Roberta C. Bondi, To Pray & to Love: Conversations on Prayer with the Early Church (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1991), p. 110.

[ii] Ibid, pp. 110-111.

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