1993, Articles, Raiati

Rebuke / 05.09.93

Suspicion is one of our commonest sins. How can we commit it, and “the righteous God tests the hearts and minds”? (Psalm 7: 9) Occasionally one of those who listen to my homilies would ask me: “Why did you talk about me?”, and my answer is that I did not talk about anybody. The Divine Word has tested you, and this is good. Relationships between people are originally based on confidence, on the simplicity that is in Christ, as stated by Paul. Isn’t it mentioned in the Bible: “Do not judge according to appearance” (John 7: 24)? In fact, no one can possibly enter others’ hearts. You should content yourself with what you hear, rather than interpreting it. “God will judge the secrets of men” (Romans 2: 16). Indeed, the words we hear can mislead us. We can interpret and examine the motivations behind people’s behaviors, but how could we possibly know their intentions? Only God can uncover hearts on the last day. He who suspects intentions is impersonating The Judge; a power God has confined to Himself.

He who throws people into hell is throwing himself into hell, and he shall be overtaken in sins he ascribed to other people. You are entitled to test your heart, and you see it by the rules of God. Take care of yourself and do not be preoccupied with other people. Turn a blind eye to people’s trespasses, and leave them to God; in other words, pray for them. This will benefit you and them. Do not be cruel lest you bring the wrath of God.

“If a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” (Galatians 6: 1) Only gentleness can reform others. What does Paul say after that? He says: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”, which means that you shall bear patiently people’s sins for this is the only way that will enable them to reform themselves.

Seek to be reformed by people. Accept advices and do not be hurt. Do not say: “Why did you rebuke me in front of people?” Why do you consider that you should not be blamed? Do not be upset if one of your brothers wanted to reform you, even if he had to do it in others’ presence. If the one who blames you is right, then you should accept what he is saying, for truth can save you. Do not ask about his intentions. Maybe he loves you and he is saying this for your own good. If it was fair, then you should accept the advice no matter how severe he is. He may have harsh words, for many people are not kind. The tone is of no importance. Importance lies in sincere and fair words.

Do not consider that you are above the truth. Regarding this the apostle says: “if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Truth can come to you through a little child. Even crazy persons can utter words of wisdom. Accept the advice humbly, because what matters is your improvement and overcoming evil. Be grateful to those who rebuke you, and do not be sad, for they might be God’s messengers to you. “Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9: 9).

Choose a spiritual father or a friend who would point out your vices. This is what a person who loves you would do, for he wishes you the very best. Others can be objective while testing you. You would be upset if you made an error. Your friend or your spiritual father delivers you from your illusions, whereas your sins will cause you to fall into the trap of illusions. You are blinded by your sins. A spiritual friend knows how you should be guided.

Choose someone who would teach you, for every person, no matter how righteous he think he is, needs to be taught by someone at every stage of his life. If you did not find a guide, let the Bible guide you. Let it control your behavior and your heart, so that the latter would be compliant with the Word of God. If the Bible purifies your heart as fire purifies metals, you shall become blameless. No one is as repentant as God wants us to be. Therefore, you should remove all masks; expose them to light without fear, for not accepting rebuke from the Word of God is equal to loving your sins. Loving sins is death, and liberation from them is resurrection from the dead.

Translated by Amani Haddad

Original Text: “التوبيخ” – 05.09.93

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