We should frequently meditate upon Christ’s parable of the prodigal son and similar parables (such as the one about those who labored for but an hour receiving the same wages as those who labored all day, with the note that the first will be last and the last will be first). We should also contemplate the fact that Paul said that he was the chief of sinners.
On that note, you should hear and/or read the Orthodox liturgies during the Great Fast (i. e., the 40 days before Pascha [Easter]). We say over and over again that I, me, myself am the worst sinner ever.
THAT, I think, is the proper frame of mind to be in. We are so tempted to think of ourselves and those we like as better than the terrorists, the shooters, the Hitlers, and all the rest. Oh, I grant that these latter cause more immediately obvious mischief, but I deny that they are worse sinners than myself. I am the worst.
When we are made perfect by Christ, we are given what we thoroughly do not deserve: Heaven. For that matter, when God creates us in our mothers’ wombs, we are given what we do not deserve: existence in God’s grand creation. Neither our creation nor our re-creation is merited. Both are grace.
We must also remember that the martyrs forgave and prayed for their murderers, in imitation of Christ upon the cross: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The martyrs did not take a grim pleasure in thinking how one day their persecutors are really going to “get it”.
What is the difference between a holy martyr (let us take St. Ignatios of Antioch [martyred in A. D. 110] as our example) and the Romans who murdered him? St. Ignatios had the joy of Christ upon this earth, and his murderers did not. That makes all the difference in the world. St. Ignatios began his Heaven early, so to speak. His persecutors had to wait until death to enjoy Heaven, while St. Ignatios was communing with Heaven for decades before his death. One single second of such communion is worth more than the whole world and all it contains.
St. Paul himself recognized, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Philippians 1:21-24) Certainly we should desire Heaven! But God has ordained that we remain for a particular span of time here in this fallen world. Why? As Paul explains in that passage, to minister to our brethren. When our race is over, God will call us home. Suicide is dereliction of duty, a failure to love God and our neighbor.