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The Spiritual Man, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

25- Do not make your comfort at the expense of others

 

Many are the sins of the one who builds his comfort at the expense of others. We will give many examples of that, such as:

1- The one who enjoys mocking and laughing at others.

He makes another person a field for sarcasm, amusement and entertainment, indifferent to hurting his feelings, and making people share with him in turning this person to a laughing stock for them. Especially if he was unable to defend himself or become reserved because the one who is making fun of him is older or superior to him. This sarcastic person is one who finds rest in troubling others psychologically.

2- Another example: The one who holds a noisy party at night with microphones that carry the loud noise across to many streets...

St-Takla.org Image: Noise, microphone صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: إزعاج، ميكروفون

St-Takla.org Image: Noise, microphone

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: إزعاج، ميكروفون

And that carries on till after midnight in clamour, entertainment, singing and uproar. In all that, he does not care about the feeling or the welfare of others. The one who needs sleep would not be able to sleep. The student would not be able to study. The sick will be disturbed by the noise and he might have taken a tablet to help him sleep and will lose its effect. The rest will lose the freedom to speak, read or enjoy their time. But the one holding the party is happy, indifferent to its effect on others.

The same with the one who turns on the radio or a transistor radio while on the bus or the train. He wants to listen but others do not concern him.

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3- Likewise the one who smokes a cigarette and next to him is a person who hates its smell...

He blows the smoke in his face or among those around him. And may be next to him is someone who is about to suffocate because of the smell of the smoke, especially if it was a closed place, a room, a bus or an aeroplane. He wants to enjoy himself, indifferent to the trouble he is causing to others. He may even do that without excusing himself and even if he did, it will only be a formality. And many are the wives who suffer from their husbands who smoke. Under the item of smoking come also the factories that pollute the atmosphere with their smoke, doing harm to peoples health, so the factory-owners get richer. Also the cars that discharge smoke while travelling...

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4- Likewise the one who disturbs others by his phone-calls that may get lengthy.

He would ring another person at any time, while the other may be asleep, having a meal, sitting with guests or busy doing something of importance that must be done. And this person will carry on talking without even asking the listener if he has the time to hear him or not, while etiquette requires that! His voice may also be loud, heard by those around the listener and they may hear secrets that they are not supposed to know!

5- The same thing applies to certain visits:

One visits another with no previous appointment, without knowing if that relative or friend is ready to receive him or not! But he gets in, sits and talks. The visit may get long and the host would be too embarrassed to say that he is busy or was about to leave for a business or an appointment! The guest will be sitting in his friends house while the friend is sitting on his nerves. How difficult are such visits, especially during the period of exams when the voice gets loud while the students need calmness. But the guests only care about their own comfort, even at the expense of others.

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6- And with the same measure: Some excursions to the monasteries:

All the visitors want is to enjoy the monastery without any consideration of the comfort of the monks or the calmness of the monastery. They may have children who will shout, run and play. Even adults may raise their voice and wander about in the monastery without any discipline. Sometimes groups of visitors would arrive by buses and private cars, bringing the number to hundreds. So the noise will prevail in this holy place while the visitors are having a good time! They do not think about the trouble they are causing to the monks who left the world seeking quietness! The problem gets worse if some members of these excursions insist on visiting the solitaires. They are after their own comfort without thinking about the life-style of others...

The story of Pope Theophilus is known. He wanted to visit Anba Arsanius, the solitary saint. But when he knew that this visit will harm the saints solitude, he refrained from that...

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7- There are those who want to talk even about matters that would make their listeners uncomfortable.

They might talk about other peoples secrets, a specific problem, mistakes of the past or open the minds of their listeners to matters new to them and it is better for them not to hear about them. But they want to talk, even if they troubled the listeners by pouring hurtful information in their ears and spoiling their thoughts. The listeners may try to escape, but they pressure them as they find pleasure in talking whether the listeners liked it or not! Adding to that is wasting the time...

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8- Every time you pressure others, you are surely looking for your own comfort at the expense of another person...

It may be a pressure on his will to do something that he does not want to do. Sometimes, tiring insistence is used, which puts pressure on his nerves and on his ears. Pressure could be direct or through mediators. It could be pressure on his conscience by threatening him of using wrong methods in matters of his responsibility. The main thing is to achieve his aim by using pressure, indifferent to the feelings of the other person and how that troubles his nerves, his conscience, his thought and his will plus the time wasted in these pressures...

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9- Some people find rest in complaining and crying, making others share in their problems, troubles and sorrow...

If that happens once or on certain occasions, it would be bearable as a social sharing: Weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15). But what about those who are used to complaining, crying and being unhappy! Whenever they meet a friend, it is like turning on a recorder of complaining, crying, misery, despair and trouble with no end. And no matter how the listener tries to alleviate their misery, he fails and the groaning would increase and probably for nothing, for a trivial matter or a repeated talk with no result! What is important to them is to relieve themselves even if their listeners were troubled. Would that when you talk, watch your listener. Is he getting tired? Weary? And if it is possible to finish your talk or not.

Many are those who lose friends and acquaintances by their repeated complaint and crying.

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10- Another point is the matter of stumbling blocks:

A female who stands for long before the mirror, before going out. She would not leave the mirror till she is very satisfied that she became very attractive. Whoever meets her admires her, indifferent to the fact that she may become a stumbling block for others. The main thing is satisfying herself in becoming the centre of admiration, even if that troubled those who admired her. My advice to you is: Do not let the mirror lead you. But heed not to become a stumbling block to others...

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11- Similar to that are those who adorn themselves at parties:

A female who wants to be number one at a party. She may attend a wedding and tries to be more beautiful and more elegant than the bride herself! She will dress up better than anyone and wear jewellery that no other woman has. She is after attracting everybodys attention, even if she repealed the existence of others, troubled other women and made them feel inferior compared to her! She also searches for her comfort at the expense of others. And if you tried to reason with her, shell say: It is a party and I have to look after my elegance Yes, but in a reasonable way and without stirring the jealousy of others and creating comparisons. At a party, dress-up with the standard of those who are attending it, with acceptable elegance.

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12- Many are the marital problems that are also caused by the one who finds his rest at the expense of others:

For example, the wife who requires from her husband what is above his financial capability. She will either exhaust him financially or force him to borrow and become in debt, or to say he has none! Sometimes shell embarrass him by talking about her ill luck in marrying a man who cannot afford to pay for her expenses! And so she hurts his feelings. The same applies to the son who demands from his parents what is above their limits and the citizen who asks his country for what is not within its power...

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13- Another example: The migrant who comes to Egypt asking the church to permit his marriage during a fast:

Sometimes it is during the Great Lent! And if it was said that the church does not permit performing the Sacrament of Marriage during a fast, he will continue pressuring, presenting excuses and justifications concerning travelling and holidays. And if these proved to be unacceptable he will protest, get angry, shouts and insists, threatening to get married at another sect. The main thing is finding rest by getting married, indifferent to the conscience of the priest, the church canons or breaking the fast, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. He is after the churchs approval, but not her blessing. He is after his own comfort at the expense of others...!

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14- Another amazing thing is: The one who wants to build his glory on destroying others, thinking that by doing this, he shows his superiority!

Even in the church circle! A writer who wants to destroy all the self-evident truths and postulates that everybody knows, trying to prove them wrong in order to introduce a new opinion, as if he understands more than others. He thinks that he is the only one who understands and all that we inherited from generations is all wrong till God sent him to present to people the correct concepts. That is how the heretics started. Those who invent something new, hoping that it will give them glory, by introducing what nobody else managed to reach. One tries to show his knowledge by declaring the ignorance of some people or the ignorance of all. He might even ask others embarrassing questions, meant to show their lack of knowledge. Then he will answer the questions to show his superiority...!!

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15- An example of that is the one who conceals the talents of others to show his own talent:

He does not allow others to show, so he will remain alone in the picture. Like the professor who does not give a chance or a certificate to a lecturer , except with great difficulty. Many beginners face the same problem, so there is not much of a chance for a beginner in writing, or an inventor in the field of art, because the experienced want to monopolize ingenuity itself! They find rest when the atmosphere is clear for them, even if the beginners were troubled. They monopolize the field and despise others! That also applies to those who monopolize talk during meetings without giving others a chance to express themselves!

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16- Another example of finding rest at the expense of others is also the jealous husband:

Who, because of his jealousy, almost locks his wife in the house so no one will see her and she would not talk to anyone. She wouldnt be able to laugh on hearing a joke said by another person, even if it was hilarious! Otherwise, the husband will turn the whole world upside down. As if he bought a beautiful bird and locked it in a cage. Even if it sang inside the cage, he would not permit it! And so he restrains her in a way that would makes her hate life. And if she argued with him or reproached him gently, he would say to her: It is the only way that gives me rest. But it is the type of rest at the expense of others, indifferent to the wifes feelings...

Likewise, the jealous wife who is grumpy, questioning her husband always, exhausting him with embarrassing questions till she finds rest, no matter how troubling it was for him...

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17- Resting at the expense of others shows also in crowded places:

Everybody wants to beat others or take somebody elses place. Or to reach his goal without caring if others would reach theirs or not! The amazing thing is that it happens sometimes during partaking of Holy Communion, especially on feasts and special occasions, while self-denial and contrition should show at that time. It is not right at all for one to search for his own comfort at the expense of others. It is also like the one who looks for the front places in meetings or the one who reserves seats before arriving. Likewise the one who stands up during meetings, blocking the vision of others. Or the one who parks his car where it will block the traffic for others. It is amazing how congestion also happens while sitting with the confession father. A confessor would enter while a long queue is waiting. But he would not care and still would take his time, even if it troubled those who are waiting. The astonishing thing is that he would not confess this sin while sitting with his confession father!

18- The matter of congestion reminds us of competitions in general:

Some competitions are for jobs and positions, where one wants to remove another from his position to take his place. Or get a promotion or a rise instead of another, even by presenting a complaint against this person or defaming him. He may cause this persons failure, to get rid of him. And in the field of politics, one party competes against another, making people hate the other party, to take its place. Speculation in the market also comes under competitions. We are not saying that competitions are wrong, but we mean competitions where sinful means are being used to trouble others, get rid of them or destroy them...!

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19- The same topic also includes all types of stealing:

The pickpocket wants to take what is in others pockets to put in his own pocket. The same with all stealing, such as deceit in trade, monopolizing markets or speculating in them. Also extravagant interest, the black market, evading taxes and custom duties. In all that, one is building his comfort at the expense of others. Likewise is the employer who reduces the salary of his employees so he would get richer. It is just like stealing their sweat and their labour. The same with the one who asks for a bribe to do a legal job. It is also another type of stealing that is sometimes done by force. It is a sinful comfort that troubles others. Take for example Ahab the king who wanted to take by force the vineyard from Naboth the Jezreelite (1Kings 21). The same with all types of injustice and exploitation.

Also the one who steals another persons idea and ascribes it to himself or translates the ideas of another writer and ascribe them to himself.

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20- We also mention here the theory of the Scape-goat.

Where for example stealing will take place by senior members of the staff then the whole responsibility will fall on a junior employee, a manager or a managing director, while the guilty ones find comfort at the expense of others. Just like trying to escape from the responsibility of a wrong deed by fastening the accusation on another. And also the one who accuses another to save himself.

21- Our topic also includes raping and tempting young women.

Like the youth who finds his sexual satisfaction by raping and destroying a young woman. Even by forming a relationship that would engage a young womans mind and emotions, causing the loss of her reputation, just because he enjoys her friendship, indifferent to the harmful effects on her! It is another type of comfort at the expense of others.

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22- Anger and nervousness also come in this matter:

One whose nerves are tired, finds relief in pouring his anger on others either by oral or written words. He would then find comfort, indifferent to the trouble given to others. It is not their fault that his nerves are tense. And if you reproach him gently, he would say: I could not have found rest till I said these words. But it is a sinful rest.

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23- Wars and colonialism are also part of this topic:

Where one nation finds comfort in destroying another nation or in blockading this country economically or in colonising it. Individuals sometimes do the same within their narrow limits.

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24- We also mention curious people who like knowing the secrets of others.

Many are the troubles caused by that, though it gives them comfort. They trouble the ones they are after their secrets and the ones they pressure by their questions, till they get all the information they want by pressuring and embarrassing them.


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