What does a child do when another child knocks him down? He collapses on the floor, cries, and refuses to get up. In some cases, he may retaliate against his offender.
What does a Christian do after he gets tempted to sin and then falls into that sin (anger, impatience, lust, pride…) ? He collapses on the floor, cries, and refuses to get up. In some cases, he may retaliate against the devil, who tricked him into this sin. At least, that is what a ‘childish’ Christian does.
You see, just as we ‘grow up’ physically, mentally, emotionally, academically, career-wise, and otherwise, we are also supposed to ‘grow up’ spiritually. We should not react as a mature Christian the way we reacted as children. But so often that is the case. Our leader gives us such training in this chapter on what to do after we get knocked down.
In essence, after ‘another child’ knocks him down (or more accurately, after he trips over his own feet), a Christian could respond like this: He gets right up again, he dusts off his clothes, he forgives whatever needs forgiving, and he moves forward with a peace about him that leads one to wonder if anything even went wrong in the first place.
What to do after a fall:
admit your fault;
beg the mercy of God;
thank Him for stopping you from falling further;
regain peace of heart;
move forward in the confidence that it’s over.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Read the Spiritual Combat online here.
Read all of chapter 26 below.
To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.
Coming up next, chapter 27: on the plans of the devil for you.
all of chapter 26:
When you feel yourself wounded from having weakly, or it may be even willfully and deliberately, fallen into some sin, be not over-fearful or over-anxious, but turn instantly to God, saying:
“Behold, O Lord, what of myself I have done! And what, indeed, could be expected of me but falls?”
And then, after a short pause, humble yourself in your own eyes, mourn over the offense committed against your Lord; and without falling into discouragement, be full of indignation against your evil passions, especially that which has occasioned your fall. Then say:
“Nor even here, Lord, should I have stopped, if Your goodness had not withheld me.”
And here give thanks to Him, and love Him more than ever, wondering at the excess of His mercy, Who, when you had so deeply offended Him, stretched out His right hand to save you from another fall.
Lastly, say, with great confidence in His infinite compassion:
“Forgive me, Lord, for Your own sake; suffer me not to depart from You, nor to be separated from You, nor evermore to offend You.”
And this done, do not sit down to consider whether God has pardoned you or not; for this is nothing else but pride, restlessness of mind, loss of time, and, under color of various fair pretexts, a delusion of the devil. But, committing yourself unreservedly to the merciful hands of God, pursue your exercise as if you had not fallen.
And if you should fall wounded many times in the day, repeat what I have taught you with no less faith the second, the third, and even the last time than the first; and despising yourself, and hating the sin more and more strive to lead henceforth a life of greater watchfulness.
This exercise is very displeasing to the devil, both because he sees it to be most acceptable to God and also because he is enraged to see himself overcome by one over whom he had been at first victorious. And therefore he seeks by many artful wiles to make us relinquish it; and, through our carelessness and lack of vigilance, he is but too often successful.
The harder therefore, this exercise may seem to you, the greater violence must you do to yourself, renewing it repeatedly even after a single fall.
And if after any fall you feel uneasy, distrustful, and confused in mind, the first thing to be done is to recover your peace and quietness of mind, and with it your confidence in God. Armed with these, turn again to the Lord; for your uneasiness on account of your sin arises not from the consideration of the offense against God, but of the injury to yourself.
To recover this peace, discard entirely from your mind the thought of your fall, and set yourself to meditate on the unspeakable goodness of God; how He is beyond measure ready and willing to forgive every sin, how grievous so-ever; calling the sinner by manifold ways and means to come to Him, that He may unite him to Himself in this life by His grace in order to his sanctification, and in the life to come by His glory for his eternal beatification.
And having quieted your mind by these and the like reflections, turn your thoughts once more to your fall, according to the instructions given you above.
Again, at the time of sacramental confession, to which I exhort you to have recourse frequently, call to mind all your falls, and with renewed sorrow and indignation at the offense against God, and renewed purpose never again to offend Him, disclose them with all sincerity to your spiritual father.