We have to draw away of those who harm us even if they are friends with us or if we needed them badly

1. From Patericon

 Abba Agathon said: `If I love someone very dearly but I realize that he makes me fall into mistake I move away of him.`

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 An elder said : It is necessary to run away of all those who commit wicked acts, even if they are our friends or relatives, if they have a sacerdotal or imperial rank. Because by getting rid of those who commit wicked acts we gain the friendship of God and courage before Him.

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The same said: It is of no use in getting attached of the evildoers in churches, market, in advice or any other matter but it is due to us to go away of those. Because all the evildoers deserve to be rejected and will know eternal damnation.

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An elder said : Do not dwell in a place where you see some men envying you. If you don’t do so, you don’t make any progress.

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A brother asked an elder : `If a brother  makes me fall into judgment, do you want me to bow to him? The elder said: `Bow to him but go away of him. Since we have abba Arsenios who says: `Have love for all but go away of all.`

2. of saint Ephrem the Syrian

Brothers we have to take heed at the evil advice. As two men dressed in shining clothes who were wandering through the fair once. One of them being careless stumbled and fell into mud staining his bright clothes. Being dominated by envy he tried to  push the other one in the mud too so that he would not be the only dirty one. The same thing happens with s many today: falling from virtue they struggle to impede the others so that they would not live alone in sin. They speak humbly and answer sweetly so that they can draw away those who listen to them from all temperance and push them in a pit like theirs. They don’t feel ashamed of committing evil deeds but urge their neighbor saying: `Why do you feel disgusted of us? Because we are sinners? But that one and that one the famous ones don’t they do the same? Don’t you know that’s not such a big deal? We fall and then we stand back again on our feet.

They don’t feel ashamed of saying such things. Why? Because being fallen they don’t want to get up but as I said they become reasons for temptation, fall and decay like the bait in the hook of the devil. They try to cheat weak souls and draw them to the same perdition. That’s why keep yourself away of such people my beloved s that they won’t charm you with their soft words and tae you with them to the eternal flame.  

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A certain brother was giving an advice after God once to another brother.

By chance someone else passed by and the one who was giving his advice said to the passer by: `Look I advise my brother and he doesn’t want to listen to me.` The other one said: `He has to listen to you. Forgive me but from you even if he heard something bad and did that would be a joy. The first one said: `It’s not like this. If he doesn’t see if it is after God what I tell him he should not listen to me. And not only me, not even a prophet if he advises him against the will of God. Because the apostle says: `

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!![1] 

Who were those who stood against Susanna in Babylon ? Weren’t they old? And not only old but also judges and rulers of the people. And because they didn’t take heed at themselves they had such a shameful end. Their rank was of no avail for them.

Be careful and vigilant brother because the scheming f the enemy are numerous. If the enemy sees a brother who is zealous for the work of God he makes another brother come against him from the reckless ones to hurt him unjustly and uselessly to make the struggler become angry and keep in mind the evil, impeding him on the path of virtue and making him fall into malice. But if he sees that he endures the malice with long lasting patience and prays for the one who hurts him, he seeks to make him fall in another way: he tries to make him befriend one of the idle and reckless so that by such a friendship he may trouble his mind and mix in it pleasure and maybe little by little he may lead him to recklessness too. But whoever fear God will never love without divine wisdom. Since it is written:

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits impartial, not hypocritical.[2] 

3. of abba Isaiah

 Abba Isaiah said: If you want to follow our Lord Jesus Christ and crucify your old self together with Him you have to break any ties with those who take you down from the cross. And prepare yourself to endure despise and rest the heart of those who sadden you.

4. of saint Isaac the Syrian

The foolish and reckless friend is a disadvantageous treasury. But spending time with the wise is a spring of sweetness. The staying with the unwise is a break of the heart. It is preferable to live with beasts than with those who live in an evil way. 

Rather sit near an eagle than near the greedy. Better befriend a killer than the cantankerous. Better talk to the greedy pig because the trough of the pigs is better than the greedy mouth. Better sit among the leprous than among the proud.

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[1]   Ga. 1,8.

[2]   Iac. 3,17.

Excerpt from the book EVERGHETINOS – Ist edition 2007  Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. I, Theme 23 – Metropolis Press Publishing, Athens, Greece, 2007.