St Barsanuphius about the Lack of Patience and Making Enemies

Our pride is the most important reason why we have enemies. Every time our neighbor offends us, we lay all the blame on him; it never occurs to us to think calmly about the devil’s tricks or take a closer look at ourselves before we judge others. We are used to considering our enemies evildoers, not even considering the thought that the reasons behind our animosity lie within ourselves, or that perhaps, there is incomparably more evil in us than in our enemies. We tend to forget that we as Christians must forgive one another. This is why instead of making peace with our enemies we multiply them.

One monk asked St Barsanuphius, “My brother does everything against me; I cannot bear this any longer. What should I do?” “Brother Andrew,” the elder answered, “I marvel at your folly. Have you forgotten how busy the devil is trying to tempt us? Remember that just as we cannot condemn those who fall into sins, we also cannot accuse those whom the devil turns against us. At the same time you must know that you yourself are not immune to the wiles of satan. Look how cruelly you speak of your neighbour without saying a word about your own sins. Before you talk about who should be higher and who should be lower you must first think about humility and blame yourself. If you consider yourself perfect in monasticism and the best in the choir, then why don’t you show your humility before someone who is weaker than you and support him? Perhaps you need to think more often about the example of Lazarus and how much he endured without grumbling and with obedience to the will of God”.

In view of this, we must be prudent in relation to everyone, and even more so to our enemies. Even if our neighbor really is guilty before us,we should never take revenge, curse or condemn him. On the contrary, we should consider this a great sin. To avoid it, we must first remember that our brother is only a man, not an angel. Besides, we ourselves are always guilty both before God and before some of our neighbors. And finally, we can never stop evil by evil, and there was never a good war or a bad peace. Above everything else, let us remember the Lord’s commandment and His promise of mercy for forgiving insults and offences to our neighbors. Let us try with all diligence not to be conquered by evil and to overcome it with good. Let us pray for our enemies, that the merciful God by His grace would bring them to peaceful disposition and lead them away from the path of sin. Amen.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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