A temptation is not a fall

Being tempted is not a fault, a spiritual fall or weakness. Being tempted is the state in which your potential of holiness and that of your fall coexist like seeds frozen between germination and death.

The Fathers say it is like walking in the street in your white clothing. If someone throws mud at you, you will be covered in filth, but you yourself are not the source of that filth, so the stains on your white clothes are not a sign of sin, or a personal fault. 

From the outside, people looking at you will only see the compromised whiteness of your clothing. They will not be able to discern between a man whose clothes are dirty because someone else has thrown mud at him, and a man who is covered in mud because he actually stumbled and fell.

The world judges what it sees, and what is seen is only the outside of a person. The most righteous saint can be as covered in mud (and they often are) as the worst sinner, because ‘mud’ is the common path to Heaven and hell. 

The mud that covers the sinner is an expression of his personal sin, while the mud covering the Saint is the result of his spiritual battles. Some wounds kill, while others are celebrations of survival.

‘Judge not’ is the only way to Love. Judge not the mud covering your brother because you do not know if it is there because of his sin, because of the hatred of the evil one or because God so loves him that He blessed him to become Christ-like in his suffering for the world.

‘Judge not’ so you do not make yourself guilty of mistaking the work of the Lord for the work of the evil one. ‘Judge not’, because some crosses lead to death, while others are the Gates to Heaven. And finally, judge only yourself, but even in that judgement be kind and forgiving, not as a sign of weakness but as a sign of wisdom and humility – know who you are, and accept that you will fall. 

You may fall for a lifetime before – by the Grace of God alone – you will stand once, before His Judgment Seat. What will make you stand is your humility and the love you’ve shown for your brother.