When one does not put God before everything, he accomplishes nothing.
What did Christ say? “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.” Real love within us shows when we help psychopaths and drug addicts. We see Christ in our brother. Whatever we do to comfort our brother, it is as if we do it to Christ Himself. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
There is no person more intelligent than the merciful person who gives earthly, perishable things and buys imperishable, heavenly things. Those who truly love and struggle properly endure with love; they sacrifice themselves, deprive themselves, and comfort their neighbour, who is Christ. Those who suffer unjustly imitate Christ, and those who suffer due to their sins are blessed. Those who, out of love, sacrifice even their own life to protect their fellowmen, imitate Christ. Those who have the pure intention of being charitable, but have nothing to give and are, on this account, distressed, are merciful via the blood of their heart. Those who want to be martyred for the love of Christ when no martyrdom is available, can manifest this love that burns within them through bodily asceticism for the sake of those reposed souls being singed so that they can have a little refief.
When one does not put God before everything, he accomplishes nothing. The spiritual person gives his love to God first, then to mankind, and the overflow of his love he gives to the animals and to all creation. When you love God, it is impossible to not love his fellow men, the images of God. One may ascend high up to reach God in two ways;
When one becomes aware of their great falls into sins and have been greatly humbled, then God loves them very much for their great repentance and He raises them to Heaven. The sinners also love God very much for having forgiven them so much debt.
Sincere praising the benevolent God.
Tears of joy and gratitude praising the benevolent God are perhaps even greater than tears of repentance. When a person remains pure from mortal sins, he must be grateful to the benevolent God who has protected him since childhood so that the garment of his soul has not been sullied (stained). If Christ had not protected you like a chick beneath His wings even since you were a little child, you might have become the greatest sinner in the world. This is why you must praise the benevolent God for His great gift, day and night, and shed tears of joy and gratitude before Him.
God loves us so much although we fall into the same sins. We are His children and He loves us all the same. For example, one of the children of a father I once saw was mentally handicapped, and although he kept wiping his runny nose on his sleeves, his father hugged him, kissed him and caressed him, just as much as his other children. God does the same thing. God’s love is incomparable! It is boundless! Although God is fully inclined to give His profuse love to us, He doesn’t, because our ‘battery’ is small and weak. God’s love comes to us in proportion to our capacity. We need to enlarge our ‘battery’ so that it can take in more divine love. When one has great love and devotion for a particular saint, naturally within that love is concealed his great love and devotion for the Triune (the Christian Trinity) God and Panaghia (Virgin Mary; Gk; Παναγία).
Examine yourself to see how much work you do with rational thought in the spiritual life and how much with the heart. When there is philotimo, the struggle is done with the heart, for it does not weary us, (tire us physically or mentally) for it is sweetened by philotimo.
Thinking of death is very helpful with the struggle against the passions. If we bear in mind the remembrance of death with hope in God, we will become aware of the vanity (excessive pride in one's appearance or accomplishments; conceit) of this world and be helped spiritually. This is why we should keep the judgement of God in mind and not forget that we will be judged for the sins we have committed and not repented for. If you keep in mind that God may call me soon, then I would not be so inclined to sin.
Vigilance in the observance of our inner self, study, and the Jesus Prayer warms up the soul and then one can overlook external details and make spiritual leaps and bounds.
Humility and love are sister virtues and they constitute the foundation of spiritual life and they attract the Grace of God (God's benevolence - inclination to perform kind, charitable acts - to the undeserving) and give birth to all other virtues. As soon as these virtues are developed, pride and evil will be crushed, and the passions will begin to perish (disappear). We need to make our will identical with that of God, as expressed by His holy commandments. By observing the commandments we practice virtue (moral excellence) and acquire the health of the soul.
When we do not understand that we progress only with the help of God, and becoming prideful, think that we achieve our spiritual goals on our own, God removes His Grace1 (unmerited favor or beneficence2 of God) so that we can realize that the only things that are ours are our will and our effort; the power and the results are from God.
Grace is a sharing in the divine (relating to, or proceeding directly from God) life. It is the infused (to be permeated with something) presence of God, a presence that is supernatural, not merely natural. Human persons are not born in a state of grace. And there is nothing we can do ourselves to earn grace. Rather, divine grace is favor, and it is freely bestowed (presented as a gift). It is true that we can reject grace. And so we have to cooperate with it. But it is grace that renders the human person holy and favorable to God.
So the first effect of grace is that it sanctifies (to make holy; purify). No one can be truly holy unless he is in a state of grace. Our loving Father allows that a person duplicate the condition of the one he had condemned in the first place. For example, if you say that someone is greedy and do not realize that you have judged him, God removes His Grace in order to allow you to fall into the sin of greed; suddenly, you begin to hard. Until you realize your fall and ask for forgiveness from God, the spiritual laws will be in effect.
Spiritual progress has three stages. In the 1rst stage, God gives out ‘caramels’ and ‘chocolates’ because He sees the need and the weakness of the soul. In the 2nd stage, God slightly removes His Grace for training purposes, so that you can realize that without God’s help, we cannot accomplish even the least and must therefore, humble our self and feel the need to take refuge in Him. In the 3rd stage you see your weaknesses and you begin to recover. The more one advances spiritually, the more he is able to detect his weaknesses and his imperfections, and that is called progress.
“Whoever will save his life shall lose it” – Spiritual life is based entirely on this: to forget your own self, in the good sense, and to consider the other person, to share his pain, feel his difficulties. I must not try to avoid the difficulties, but rather see how I can help the other, how I can comfort him. If you put yourself in the other’s place, then you will understand what comforts him. This is what Christ wants. This is how Christ comes into the heart and one is inundated (to overwhelm as if with a flood) with joy.
“Seek not bodily comfort if the Lord has not given it to you”. It means that one should not seek his own ease, his convenience. Self-denial is needed first, and then many divine powers follow, for when self-renunciation (The act of renouncing one's own rights) exists then God gives one His Grace1. If one has the spirit of sacrifice, then he receives divine assistance and God provides for him. The help one receives from God is analogous to the sacrifice and prayer he does for his fellow human beings.
There are two ways by which one may ascend, high, up to God so that He may condescend (to lower oneself) to bend over him and stay with him. The first way is sincere repentance, and concerns the very sinful. When they become aware of their great falls into sins and have been greatly humbled, then God loves them very much for their great repentance and He raises them to Heaven. “More joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner who repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance…” Then, of course, the sinners also love God very much for having forgiven them so much debt.
The second way is this: When a person remains pure from mortal sins, he must be grateful to the benevolent God Who has protected him since childhood so that the garment of his soul has not been sullied (soiled or stained). This is why you must praise the benevolent God for His great gift, day and night, and shed tears of joy and gratitude before Him. Those tears have the same power – perhaps even greater – as tears of repentance, and can raise one to Heaven, where he reaches God and praises Him endlessly, like the Angels.
In order to love God you should start with sacrifice. When a person does not take himself into account and sacrifices himself instead, then things are in order: he loves his neighbor – he loves God. Those who claim to love God but fail to make a single sacrifice for their neighbor have “loved Him with their mouths and they lied unto Him with their tongues”.
Love for God increases by keeping your mind constantly in God, by thinking of God; invoke the Jesus Prayer; speak with God.
Hope in God is the linchpin that overturns despair, liberates the soul from sorrow and anxiety, and gradually invigorates (strengthens) the spiritual powers with the divine4 (having the nature of or being a deity) liveliness it bestows (applies).
If you have a hard time to forgive someone, think of this; How can Christ, the Sinless One, constantly bear with me and at the same time bear with and forgive billions of people while I cannot forgive a single person?
-- Saint Paisios
- Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
- A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement.
- A sense of fitness or propriety.
Grace of God - We can all extend grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the undeserving.
Beneficence - active goodness, kindness, or charity
divine - having the nature of or being a deity