A brother questioned Abba Poemen in this way, “My thoughts trouble me, making me put my sins aside, and concern myself with my brother’s faults.”
The old man told him the following story about Abba Diosorus:
In his cell he wept over himself, while his disciple was sitting in another cell. When the latter came to see the old man, he asked him, “Father, why are you weeping?”
“I am weeping over my sins,” the old man answered him.
Then his disciple said, “You do not have any sins, Father.”
The old man replied, “Truly, my child, if I were allowed to see my sins, three or four men would not be enough to weep for them.”
Sometimes I wonder about my own sins. I see some of them, yes. But how blind am I to others? It is one thing to sin out of ignorance and lack of understanding; it is another to sin but to refuse to acknowledge them out of the blindness induced by pride and stubbornness.
At times, I do recognize my own sins when, as the brother in the beginning of the story says, I “concern myself with my brother’s faults.” I am prone to decry the sins of others, especially if they have done something to irritate me! But every now and then, I realize that my “brothers” faults are mine, as well.
We may try to convince ourselves that “I would never do that” when we see the faults and sins of others, but the truth is, we all have the capacity to sin in the same ways. And even if we don’t sin in one particular way, we surely have another sin that more than makes up for that fault we have found in our brother.
Now, would someone please remind me of this the next time I am flying into a rage over some perceived insult inflicted by a particular person?!
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!