Question: “Some people, influenced by the devil, are well-disposed toward me because I am pious; for I do not hasten to visit the market place and do not become involved in matters. Then, when the time comes and my bodily needs require me to bathe, I am always embarrassed that I might scandalize those who think highly of me, expecting that I would refuse a bath because of my piety. Why is this happening, father?“
This is vainglory. For you are a secular [un-ordained] man; and, as we have said, bathing is not forbidden for a layperson, at least whenever necessary. Now, if Satan suggests to some people that you are a prophet in order to mislead your thought toward arrogance, and in spite of this you still want to confirm this lie about you, then it is this that you should be ashamed of.
Those actions which involve transgressing God’s commandment, such as fornication, avarice, and the like, are precisely what bring true scandal. In regard to these, one should give account not only for oneself but also for the harm brought upon one’s neighbor. Bathing self-indulgently and unnecessarily is sinful and truly scandalous. On the other hand, bathing only when necessary is not a scandal; so the one who is scandalized bears the judgment. If you are embarrassed about this, then this is vainglory from the devil.
—Sts. Barsanuphios & John (Letter 771)