Orthodox Thought for the Day


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On possessions and wealth

Cheerfulness consists in not regarding these things as our own, but as entrusted to us by God for the benefit of our fellow-servants. It consists in scattering them abroad generously with joy and magnanimity, not reluctantly or under compulsion (II Cor.9:7ff). Further, we ought cheerfully to empty ourselves of that which we stored up in the hope of the true promise God has made to us of giving us a hundredfold reward for this. For since God knows that we are all wholly possessed by the lust for possessions and mad desire for wealth and how difficult it is for us to tear ourselves loose from them, and how those who in various ways have been deprived of them despair of life itself, He has made use of the corresponding remedy. He has promised to give us, as we have said, a hundredfold reward for that which we spend on the poor. This He has done, first, that we may be set free in this matter from the condemnation of covetousness, and second that we may cease to put our trust and hope in possessions and find our hearts set free from such bonds.

Once we have been set free we can proceed without hindrance to the practice of His commandments and 'serve Him with fear and trembling' (Ps.2:11), not as though we were doing Him some favor, but as receiving a benefit by being admitted into His service. Otherwise it would be impossible for us to be saved! The rich have been commanded to lay aside their wealth as being some kind of burden and hindrance to a life pleasing to God, and thus to take up the Cross on their shoulders and follow the Master in His footsteps (Mk.8:34; Mt.16:14), for it is wholly impossible for us to bear both burdens at once. As for those who are not in their case and live in moderate circumstances, or even go short of the necessities of life, they have nothing that  impedes them if they wish to walk on the narrow and difficult way (Mt. 7:14). The former need no more than the intention to do so; the latter are already walking on that way, and must live with patience and thanksgiving. God, because He is just, will prepare a place of rest for those who are thus on the way to eternal life and enjoyment.  St. Symeon the New Theologian (10th century)

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