And it is not easy to keep one’s soul humble in the midst of difficulties, just as it is not easy not to be proud and prosperity and honor. And the proud, the more they are flattered, the more disdainful they become. The manner of one who is humble of heart is modest and somewhat downcast. Such as these also dress simply and for use, not cultivating hair, or particular about clothing; so that the appearance mourners put on is natural to them. And as to dress, but the outer garment (tunic) be held in place by a girdle, not fastened above the waist, like a woman’s, nor yet loosely, so that the garment is slack, which looks foolish. And as to your manner of walking, let it not be sluggish, which shows a dull relaxed soul. Neither should it be too quick, or strutting, lest your movements show a mind that his rash, or lacking in good sense. The purpose of clothing is to provide suitable covering for the body both winter and summer. Avoid what is striking color. And as to quality, it should not be too fine, or effeminate. For man who indulges in bright colors is no different from a woman who paints her face and eyes or hair. Let your close be sufficiently thick, so that you have no need of another to keep you warm. Shoes should cost little; if they should be such as we need. The practice of modesty consists in this; and being content with things that are cheap and simple, and in being watchful against the affectations of vainglory.
A man is vainglorious who will do or say anything for the sake of this world’s miserable applause. As, for instance, a man who gives almost to be honored by others. He receives his reward (Matthew 6:2); though he is neither generous nor compassionate. Or a man who is temperate, so as to be praised for his moderation. He is not temperate; since he is not striving for this virtue, but for the credit that will come to him through this virtue.
Neither let you be an un-just judge in your own case. Do not try it with favor toward yourself; taking note of whatever good you have done, forgetting the evil. Do not take pride in today’s good actions, whilst giving yourself full pardon for past or recent wicked ones. Rather, should you be pleased and satisfied with some present action, bring up before your mind another kind of action from the past, and then at your foolish pride will cease. The most difficult of all things seems to be to no one’s self. For not alone does our eyes look outwardly, and not use its power to look at itself, but our mind also; so sharp to note the sins of others, it is slow to see its own sins. Neither should you be too severe, or to prompt, and rebuking others. Do not judge in anger; for this is a ruthless thing. Do not condemn for trifles; as though you were yourself faultless in the sight of the law. And those who have been overtaken by some fault, treat them with the spirit of mildness, as the apostle warns us: “considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). For should we offend in something, we are the better for a little rebuke. But where we have done no wrong, why should we be made to suffer?
(St. Basil the Great, fromThe Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers (4 Volume Set)