The people don’t love you, love them yourself. If they don’t love you this doesn’t depend on you, but to love them depends on your will and it is your duty, because the Lord commanded the following: to love not only those who love us but also our enemies (Matthew 5,44) and if this thing is not found within ourselves, we should humble even more and chase away our pride and pray for this to the Lord.
A person said: I don’t understand father how you don’t get angry with those who slander you but you even go on loving them.
The elder smiled and said: You have a son. Do you get angry with him if he does what he shouldn’t do and speak what he shouldn’t speak? Don’t you try to cover his flaws?
You are writing that you are not in peace with N. I think that you can still learn this alphabet, that your disposition is not caused by that person but it is a proof of your unjust heart. We are Christ’s disciples and He commands to love our enemies. Where is then this love? How do we know if we have it? Of course when we are defamed. And God allows to be defamed by the others to try us. And when we don’t bear that and don’t have love, we must repent for this and rebuke ourselves cause otherwise the troubles sent for our instruction don’t bring us any benefit and harm us. We receive the weapon for hitting our enemy but instead of this we hurt ourselves with it.
Don’t seek in the others their love for you, but seek within yourself your love not only for your brother but also for your enemy.
Saint Makarios from Optina
Excerpt from ”The elders from Optina are speaking to us”, Egumenița Publishing