Comfort Yourself

VI.iv.7. Again, a brother asked, “If a man beats his servant because of the things he has done wrong, what should that servant say?”
The old man replied, “If he is a good servant he will say, ‘Forgive me, I’ve done wrong'”.
“Nothing else?” asked the brother.
“No,” replied the old man, “for in accepting the blame and saying he has done wrong the master will forgive him at once. The point in all this is ‘Don’t condemn your neighbour’.
When the hand of the Lord slew the first-born in the land of Egypt there was not a single household without a death” (Exodus 12.29-30).
“What does that text mean?” asked the brother.
“It means that if we keep our own sins in mind,” the old man replied, “we will overlook the sins of our neighbour. It would not make sense for someone with a death in the house to go out and mourn the death of a neighbour. To be as if dead as far as one’s neighbour is concerned is to bear the burden of your own sins, and to refrain from passing judgment on everyone as to whether this person is good, this one bad. Do no evil to anyone, don’t even think evil of anyone, neither reject the evil doer nor acquiesce in the evil anyone is doing to your neighbour, and all this is to be as if dead as far as one’s neighbour is concerned. Don’t spread slander about anyone, but say, ‘God knows what is in each person’, neither listen to anyone spreading slander or collude with him in that slander. And all this is what ‘judge not that you be not judged’ means (Matthew 7.1). Don’t make an enemy of anyone and don’t harbour a grudge in your heart. Nor should you feel hatred for anyone who slanders your neighbour, but don’t give your assent to his slanders either. Peace of mind is his who does not despise the one who slanders his neighbour, and comfort yourself with these words, ‘Short is the time of our labour, eternal the span of our rest’, thanks be to the Word of God. Amen.”
De Vitis Patrum, Book VI, Libellus 6.

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