The gift of God's forgiveness is received through private prayer, corporate worship, the disciplines of prayer and fasting, penitential services and above all through the sacrament of Holy Confession. As we enter into the Apostles fast we are able to focus on our spiritual journey. Below explains how confession helps our soul, how to go about confession and goes over some important questions.
Repentance the Road to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Why Should I confess? I am a good person (by Fr. John Downie)
When Adam and Eve had first tasted of the forbidden fruit, The Word of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, came to them in the garden to speak with them. They saw their nakedness - that is their weakness, and hid from God. He called to them and said, "Where are you?" 10 So he [Adam] said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" 12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."(Gen 3:9- 13 NKJ) So the primordial fall and the tragic history of man’s descent into fratricide (Cain and Abel), floods, war, disease, and genocide, in short, all of the suffering of mankind down to this very hour could have been stemmed if Adam or Eve would have humbled themselves and tried to understand what the Word of God was trying to persuade them to do: confess their sins. The Logos asked them four questions. If at any point Adam or Eve would have said, “Lord, I have sinned. I ate from the only tree I was not to eat from, though there were so many other beautiful and enchanting trees. I am ashamed to say I broke the only commandment You gave me. Please forgive me, I am so sorry, I have no excuse. Do with me as You see fit, since You are holy,” no death, no destruction would have entered into the cosmos. Instead, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the Devil, so now we live in a world that is perpetually on the brink of destruction. And the Word of God gave us the gift of death, so that we would not enter immediately into the second death, eternal death, hell – eternally cast out of the divine presence. So too, restoring our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ is impossible without confession. Our sins don’t only affect ourselves, but the entire Christian community, and the entire cosmos, because we are not less human than Adam and Eve. Faith in Jesus Christ and being a member of His immaculate Body isn’t just a subjective event. We belong to the public ministry of Christ grafting us into His body in this world, and we hope and pray in the next as well. We are members of His Body that was publicly crucified, and publicly rose from the dead and appeared to over 500 people! Therefore, the confession of ritualistic impurities to priests of the Old Testament, touching a dead body and so forth, are now fulfilled in the New Covenant where we confess our spiritual deaths to the New Testament priests of the only High priest, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that we can escape the second more fearful death – spiritual death, hell. Only through confession can we gain access again to the secret garden, the mysterious Garden of Eden. Only through confessing our sins to Christ can we enter into the splendor of the inner garden of the heart. Can’t we confess directly to Christ? Why yes, of course – directly to His body. Christ hasn’t left us orphans. He has left us His Body, the Church, and the Holy Spirit. We confess directly to Christ in the presence of a priest as the representative of the body of the Church. Since sin affects not just ourselves, we must confess them to one another. Christ chose to grant His Church the authority to administer His forgiveness. Speaking to the 12 apostles He said: “‘Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 ‘Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.’” (Mat 18:18- 20 NKJ) “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” (Joh 20:22-23 NKJ) Honest and sincere confession is painful because through it we realize that only we ourselves are responsible for our tragedies, pain, limitations, evil inclinations, lack of zeal and sin. To the saints, false accusations, injustice torture and horrific death are glory! How far we are from a healthy conscience! If we were to see the reality of our spiritual state, we would die twice. Once we would die seeing the horror of the magnitude of our errors and the consequences of our personal evil and lack of holiness upon the world, on the future, on our family, loved ones and friends. And then we would die a second time observing the great humility of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as He stretches out His hand to offer us all of His love despite our deplorable state. Stretching out His hand to give us now in this hell on earth what had been forbidden in Paradise, His Body, His Eucharist; forgiving Adam and Eve’s breach of His command and forgetting His previous commandment out of love and condescension. So easily and graciously forgiving every conceivable sin if only we take personal responsibly, ask forgiveness and confess. Since confession is an art, take the time to read the small guide to confession that will be made available at a link on our website and as pamphlets on the candle dispenser in St. Michael’s Church. It will help to understand how to think about our shortcomings as Christians and how to approach this great mystery with seriousness and joy since it is primarily through confession that we overcome our human limitations and allow the grace of God to guide us back into the joy of paradise.
A Communion-Centered Life
Attending the liturgy and receiving Communion on Sundays and principal feast days has always been at the heart of Christian life, the event that gives life a Eucharistic dimension and center point. But Communion—receiving Christ into ourselves—can never be routine, never something we deserve, no matter what the condition of our life may be.
Receiving Christ in Communion during the liturgy is the keystone of living in communion—with God, with people, and with creation. Christ teaches us that love of God and love of neighbor sum up the Law. One way of describing a serious sin is to say it is any act which breaks our communion with God and with our neighbor.
It is for this reason that examination of conscience—if necessary, going to confession—is part of preparation for Communion. This is an ongoing process of trying to see my life and actions with clarity and honesty—to look at myself, my choices, and my direction as known by God. The examination of conscience is an occasion to recall not only any serious sins committed since my last confession, but even the beginnings of sins.
The word conscience derives from a Greek verb meaning “to have common knowledge” or “to know with” someone, a concept that led to the idea of bearing witness concerning someone, especially oneself. Conscience is an inner faculty that guides us in making choices that align us with God’s will, and that accuses us when we break communion with God and with our neighbor. Conscience is a reflection of the divine image at the core of each person.
Conscience is God’s whispering voice within us calling us to a way of life that reveals God’s presence and urges us to refuse actions that destroy community and communion.
Confession as a Social Action
It is impossible to imagine a healthy marriage or deep friendship without confession and forgiveness. If we have done something that damages a relationship, confession is essential to its restoration. For the sake of that bond, we confess what we’ve done, we apologize, and we promise not to do it again; then we do everything in our power to keep that promise.
In the context of religious life, confession is what we do to safeguard and renew our relationship with God whenever it is damaged. Confession restores our communion with God and with each other.
It is never easy to admit to doing something we regret and are ashamed of, an act we attempted to keep secret or denied doing or tried to blame on someone else, perhaps arguing—to ourselves as much as to others—that it wasn’t actually a sin at all, or wasn’t nearly as bad as some people might claim. In the hard labor of growing up, one of the most agonizing tasks is becoming capable of saying, “I’m sorry.”
Yet we are designed for confession. Secrets in general are hard to keep, but unconfessed sins not only never go away, but have a way of becoming heavier as time passes—the greater the sin, the heavier the burden. Confession is the only solution.
To understand confession in its sacramental sense, one first has to grapple with a few basic questions: Why is the Church involved in forgiving sins? Is priest-witnessed confession really needed? Why confess at all to any human being? In fact, why bother confessing to God, even without a human witness? If God is really all-knowing, then He knows everything about me already. My sins are known before it even crosses my mind to confess them. Why bother telling God what God already knows?
Yes, truly God knows. My confession can never be as complete or revealing as God’s knowledge of me and of all that needs repairing in my life.
Confessing sins, or even temptations, makes us better able to resist. The underlying principle is described in one of the collections of sayings of the Desert Fathers:
If impure thoughts trouble you, do not hide them, but tell them at once to your spiritual father and condemn them. The more a person conceals his thoughts, the more they multiply and gain strength. But an evil thought, when revealed, is immediately destroyed. If you hide things, they have great power over you, but if you could only speak of them before God, in the presence of another, then they will often wither away, and lose their power.
Confession is a Christian ritual with a communal character. Confession in the church differs from confession in your living room in the same way that getting married in church differs from simply living together. My confession is an act of reconnection with God and with all the people and creatures who depend on me and have been harmed by my failings, and from whom I have distanced myself through acts of non-communion. The community is represented by the person hearing my confession, an ordained priest delegated to serve as Christ’s witness, who provides guidance and wisdom that helps each penitent overcome attitudes and habits that take us off course, who declares forgiveness and restores us to communion. In this way our repentance is brought into the community that has been damaged by our sins—a private event in a public context.
“It’s a fact,” writes Fr. Thomas Hopko, rector of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, “that we cannot see the true ugliness and hideousness of our sins until we see them in the mind and heart of the other to whom we have confessed.”
What does confession mean?
The very word confession makes us nervous, touching as it does all that is hidden in ourselves: lies told, injuries caused, things stolen, friends deceived, people betrayed, promises broken, faith denied—these plus all the smaller actions that reveal the beginnings of sins.
Confession is painful, yet a Christian life without confession is impossible.
Confession is a major theme of the Gospels. Even before Christ began His public ministry, we read in Matthew’s Gospel that John required confession of those who came to him for baptism in the River Jordan for a symbolic act of washing away their sins: “And [they] were baptized by [John] in the Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:6).
Then there are those amazing words of Christ to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). The keys of binding and loosing sins were given not only to one apostle but to all Christ’s disciples, and—in a sacramental sense—to any priest who has his bishop’s blessing to hear confessions.
The Gospel author John warns us not to deceive ourselves: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:8, 9).
What Is Sin?
There are countless essays and books that deal with human failings under various labels without once using the three-letter word sin. Actions traditionally regarded as sinful have instead been seen as natural stages in the process of growing up, a result of bad parenting, a consequence of mental illness, an inevitable response to unjust social conditions, or pathological behavior brought on by addiction.
But what if I am more than a robot programmed by my past or my society or my economic status and actually can take a certain amount of credit—or blame—for my actions and inactions?
The Hebrew verb chata’, “to sin,” like the Greek word hamartia, simply means straying off the path, getting lost, missing the mark. Sin—going off course—can be intentional or unintentional.
The author of the Book of Proverbs lists seven things God hates: “A proud look, / A lying tongue, / Hands that shed innocent blood, / A heart that devises wicked plans, / Feet that are swift in running to evil, / A false witness who speaks lies, / And one who sows discord among brethren” (6:17–19).
Tools of Self-Examination
In the struggle to examine conscience, we have tools that can assist us, resources that help both in the formation and the examination of conscience. Among these are the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and various prayers, as well as lists of questions written by experienced confessors
Key Elements in Confession
Fr. Alexander Schmemann provided this summary of the three key areas of confession:
Relationship to God: Questions on faith itself, possible doubts or deviations, inattention to prayer, lack of daily personal prayer, neglect of liturgical life, fasting, Bible and spiritual books readings, etc.
Relationship to one’s neighbor: Basic attitudes of selfishness and self-centeredness, indifference to others, lack of attention, interest, love. All acts of actual offense—envy, gossip, cruelty, looking down to others, etc.—must be mentioned and, if needed, their sinfulness shown to the penitent.
Relationship to one’s self: Sins of the flesh with, as their counterpart, the Christian vision of purity and wholesomeness, respect for the body as an icon of Christ, etc. Abuse of one’s life and resources; absence of any real effort to deepen life; abuse of alcohol or other drugs; cheap idea of “fun,” a life centered on amusement, irresponsibility, neglect of family relations, etc.
Finding a Confessor
Just as not every doctor is a good physician, not every priest is a good confessor. Sometimes it happens that a priest, however good his qualities in other respects, is a person not well suited for witnessing confessions. God has given us freedom and provided each person with a conscience. It is not the role of a priest to take the place of conscience or to become anyone’s drill sergeant. A good confessor will help us become better at hearing the voice of conscience and become more free in an increasingly God-centered life.
Fortunately, good confessors are not hard to find. Usually your confessor is the priest who is closest, sees you most often, knows you and the circumstances of your life best: a priest of your parish. Do not be put off by your awareness of what you perceive as his relative youth, his personal shortcomings, or the probability that he possesses no rare spiritual gifts. Keep in mind that each priest goes to confession himself and may have more to confess than you do. You confess, not to him, but to Christ in his presence. He is the witness of your confession.
Don’t imagine that a priest will respect you less for what you reveal to Christ in his presence, or imagine that he is carefully remembering all your sins. “Even a recently ordained priest will quickly find that he cannot remember 99 percent of what people tell him in confession,” one priest told me. He said it is embarrassing to him that people expect him to remember what they told him in an earlier confession. “When they remind me, then sometimes I remember, but without a reminder, usually my mind is a blank. I let the words I listen to pass through me. Also, so much that I hear in one confession is similar to what I hear in other confessions—the confessions blur together. The only sins I easily remember are my own.”
Preparation for Confession and Holy Communion - Guide and advice
To examine yourself well, you must turn your attention to the three aspects of our active life. These aspects are:
1) the actions, those isolated acts which are performed at a given time in a given place and under given circumstances;
2) the disposition of the heart and the characteristics tendencies which are concealed beneath the actions; and
3) the general character of life.
1) Our entire life is made up of an uninterrupted series of acts: thoughts, words, deeds; some giving way to others, with these in turn being followed by still others. Look over all these acts, each one separately; there is no way to define their moral value. ...There is no necessity to review and reassess everything separately. You have an unsleeping guard, your conscience. When something evil is done, it does not let it slip by, and no matter how you try to justify it to your conscience, it will not cease evaluating everything in its own way: This is evil, that is evil. Here then is your first step: Listen to your conscience and all those actions which it exposes to you, without any excuse, acknowledge as sinful and prepare to confess them. We may call this the first and the last step; that is, the admission that one is undeniably guilty of what the conscience has revealed, and the decision to avoid it in the future. ...It does happen that the conscience does not notice something because of some sort of confusion; it might forget something because of old age, and it may not consider something to be a sin out of ignorance and incomplete knowledge of what actions are necessary for us. So it is a necessity here for the conscience to turn for assistance to the commandments of God that are depicted in the Word of God, and, in reviewing them, to find out if we have done anything contrary to any of them. By doing this, we may recall much which we have forgotten, and much of that which is recalled will be presented in a form other than how we interpreted it. The Word of God becomes like a mirror. ...Here then is the second step for you. Go over the commandments and see whether you carry them out or not. For example, the commandment enjoins us to offer charity every time someone asks for it. Look at yourself, do you always offer it, or not? Do you sometimes refuse it, not because of any important reason, but simply because you scorn the beggar? If this turns out to be the case, take note: It is a sin. The commandments says to forgive everyone everything, even that which is unpleasant and offensive. Look at yourself again, to see whether you are always deferential; haven’t you had disputes, heated words, and maybe even quarrels? If you can recall any, note once again: It is a sin, although the conscience does not always place such actions in this category. Again, you must place all your hope in God. Have you always done this? In the usual course of action you do not notice it. But when you meet with need, it immediately surfaces and becomes apparent on what your soul relies, whether on God or whether you forget about God and rely on something else....Do this with each commandments, and note which actions you have committed against which commandment. In this way you will make a detailed examination of your actions.
2) Actions do not provide full knowledge of the self. It is necessary to look more deeply into oneself and to examine what your heart is like, paying more attention to this than to actions. Suppose a man who is normally kind-hearted happens to behave stubbornly on a single occasion. Then you encounter another person who behaves in the same way, not just by chance, but because he is stingy by nature. On the surface, both actions are identical, but going by the inner disposition of the actors, there is a big difference between them. Acts are actions isolated in time and in place, while dispositions signify permanent inclinations of the heart by which the character and way of life of a person are defined, and from which come all his greatest desires and the direction of his acts. The good dispositions are called virtues, while the worst are called vices, depraved inclinations and passions.
Christ the Savior indicates which dispositions a Christian must have in his heart. These are humility, contrition, meekness, love of righteousness and truth, mercifulness, pure heartedness, love of peace, and patience. The Apostle St. Paul indicates the following blessed Christian dispositions of the heart, which are the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal.5:22,23). In another place he writes, Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering: Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bind of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts..(Col. 3:12-15).
In contrast to these dispositions are the vices or passions, the sources of all the evil deeds that ruin us. The main ones are pride, vanity, selfishness, intemperateness, anger, hatred, envy, idleness, desire for sensual pleasures, gloom, and despair.
Please examine yourself thoroughly to see if you have any bad inclinations and passions. Everyone possesses each one of them to a small degree, but they are not deeply rooted or permanent. And everyone has one main passion around which all the others entwine themselves. You must take care to seek this one out above all. Although because of your youth such a passion will not be obvious, there should be perceptible traces if you probe. After you have found it, assess the others: find the one that is closest to it, and the one that is farthest. And you will understand the structure of your heart. What a valuable acquisitions! Because after this, when you purge yourself of passions and bad inclinations, then it will be apparent to you where to direct your effort and strength, namely, at your main passion. Then you will overcome it, and all the others will disperse in and of themselves. As in war, once the main enemy force has been shattered, you have only to pursue the others and rout them without any trouble. It is easy to correct deeds. Just do not do it. The heart, however, cannot be transformed and corrected all at once. A struggle lies ahead.
3) The third aspect of life is the spirit of life. This is the most important as well as the most complex element. A malicious spirit is so subtle and so able to mask itself with a façade of kindness and opportuneness that one must have the sharpest spiritual vision in order to detect it. A good spirit, on the other hand, is obvious, because it has a unique purpose; that is, having put everything else aside, it lives for God. Contrary to this is the spirit that lives for itself (egoism). This type of spirit very often, if not always, adopts a secondary direction: living for the world. Thus, if we suppose that the spirit of one’s life is indicated by who it is a person lives for, it should be easy for you to determine the spirit of your life. This is accomplished once you have determined who it is you live for, or, as you are still just starting out in life, who it is you most wish to live for, what it is you strive for in your heart, and to whom you will to dedicate your life the most. The spirit of your life, even though your life is still in an embryonic stage like a feeble baby bird, is defined by the characteristics of that to which you most incline. He who lives for God has a God-fearing spirit that endeavors to please the One God. He who lives only for himself has a spirit that is self-pleasing, egoistical, selfish, and carnal. He who lives for the world has a world-loving or vain spirit. Going by these characteristics, look and see what kind of spirit breathes in you. Judging from the fact that you were filled with the desire to draw closer to God, it must supposed that the main spirit of your life is good...Whether or not you possess an egotistical spirit still remains under question. It seems to me that it is there, although to what extent I do not know. ..your egoistical spirit will soon dissipate if you give more and more rein to your heart for the kindling of desire for God. Please take this into consideration.
What use can you make of the knowledge you have achieved of yourself? First of all, you should judge yourself in all your shortcomings, without making any excuses or justifications.
Christians should pray to God not allow them to be filled with craftiness to think up excuses for sins. Do not expect repentance from a person who thinks up such excuses; he who has no repentance cannot begin self-correction. Consequently, the main thing is that to judge yourself without pity, you must bring yourself to the point where you can sincerely utter in your heart, “I am completely guilty”.
When you come to say in your heart “I am guilty”, then you must apply the fear of the Divine Judgment. If your own conscience condemns you, then God Himself does not excuse you.
How then should one be? A person would not know how he is to be if there were no Divine grace. A gracious God gives us the hope of forgiveness of guilt, if we repent with contrition and set forth a firm intention to flee past sins and not anger God by them. This is the essence of repentance.
Do not just be a passionless seeker of your shortcomings; mourn them, and sincerely regret that they were committed.
Along with mourning for one’s sins and resolving not to sin, it is necessary to add diligent prayer to the Lord so that He will grant His help in opposing sin, and also to believe that the Lord will not withhold such help.
When you finish doing these things, you will be ready for Confession, and when you receive absolution for your sins at Confession, you will be ready for Holy Communion. When you are sincerely repentant and have a firm resolution to make amends, the Lord comes in His Holy Mysteries and enters into you, and He will be with you and you will be with Him.
Self examination based on the Ten Commandments
Have I believed in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
Have I failed to trust in God and His mercy?
Have I complained against God in adversity?
Have I been thankful for God's blessings?
Have I doubted the Christian faith and the teachings of the Church?
Have I tried to serve God and keep His Commandments?
Have I neglected my duties to God through fear of ridicule or persecution?
Have I failed to pray to God faithfully'?
Have I made an idol of any person or thing?
Have I given to anyone or anything the worship that is due to God alone?
Have I read the Holy Scriptures regularly?
Have I been irreverent during Church Services, let my attention wander, or using my cell phone during the Church services?
Have I neglected to receive Holy Communion without due preparation?
Have I profaned the Holy name of God in any way?
Have I cursed anyone or anything, or sworn a false oath?
Have I failed to give proper reverence to holy persons and things?
Have I had due respect for the clergy of the Church or hindered them in performing God's work?
Have I broken any solemn vow or promise?
Have I entered into any unlawful contract or made an unlawful promise?
Have I stayed away from Church on Sundays or prevented others from going?
Have I done unnecessary work on Sundays?
Have I spent the day in unwholesome fashion or profaned it by improper conduct?
If I could not go to Church because of illness or other grave cause, have I prayed at home?
Have I caused anyone else to profane the Lord's Day?
Have I kept the Fasts and Festivals prescribed by the Church?
Have I respected my parents and been obedient to them?
Have I been guilty of deception, or caused them pain by my words or actions?
Have I neglected them or failed to help them?
Have I done my duty towards my family?
Have I been wanting in love or kindness towards my husband (or wife), or harmed him (or her) in any way?
Have I set my children a good example and tried to bring them up properly?
Have I corrected their faults with patience and not with anger?
Have I over-indulged or spoiled them?
Have I neglected my God-children and failed in my obligations towards them?
Have I worked for my employers honestly and diligently?
Have I treated fairly all those who have worked for me?
Have I honored God as my Heavenly Father by treating others as my brothers, and have I honored the Church as my spiritual Mother by honoring and practicing my religion in accordance with her teachings?
Have I caused the injury or death of any one, or wished that I were dead?
Have I done anything to shorten my own life or that of someone else by injuring health, or through evil and intemperate living?
Have I given way to anger, or harmed others with words or actions?
Have I defamed others who needed help, or failed to stand up for those unjustly treated?
Have I been cruel to anyone?
Have I mistreated animals or destroyed any life unnecessarily?
Have I failed to forgive anyone or harbored evil thoughts against them?
Have I made abortion or used the contraception for the second day?
Have I given way to impure thoughts, words, or deeds?
Have I committed any unworthy actions alone or with others?
Have I degraded myself in any way, or forgotten human dignity?
Have I read immoral books or magazines, or delighted in obscenity of any kind?
Have I associated with bad companions or frequented unsavory places?
Have I eaten or drunk or smoked too much? Have I been lazy, idle, or wasted my time?
Have I led others to commit sinful acts? Have I been unfaithful to any trust confided in me?
Have I stolen anything or wished to do so?
Have I kept anything that did not belong to me?
Have I tried honestly to find owners of lost articles I have found?
Have I cheated anyone?
Have I paid my debts?
Have I lived within my income, and not wastefully and extravagantly?
Have I given to charitable causes in proportion to my means?
Have I been honest and upright?
Have I told lies, or added to or subtracted from the truth?
Have I made careless statements or spoken evil of anyone?
Have I told any secrets entrusted to me, or betrayed anyone?
Have I gossiped about anyone or harmed their reputation?
Have I concealed the truth, assisted in carrying out a lie, or pretended to commit a sin of which I was not guilty?
Have I tried to see the good in others rather than their shortcomings?
Have I envied anything good that has come to others?
Have I been jealous of another's good fortune? Have I wished for anything that was another's?
Have I damaged or destroyed the property of others?
Have I wished for things God has not given me, or been discontented with my lot?
Have I been stingy? Have I held back anything due another?
Have I hoped for the downfall of anyone so that I might gain by it?
Have I failed to be gracious and generous to anyone?
Have I expected God to give me that which I would refuse one of my fellow men?