Orthodox Thought for the Day


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Driving away the soul's enemy

Further counsel from St. John Chrysostom: 

“When the enemy derides you for some sin which you see in yourself, and you, hearing this, do not answer him with insults but begin to sigh and to entreat God, you will smooth over your sin.  Lest you think that I am merely consoling you with empty words, I will call on the testimony of Holy Scripture.  There were a Pharisee and a Publican.  The latter had reached the vilest depths of sin, and the former jealously guarded his righteousness.  Once, both of them went to the temple to pray.  The Pharisee stood and said, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican, (Luke 18:11).  And the Publican, standing on the side, did not answer with insults, and did not say any sinful words like those that we hurl at each other every day, but sighed bitterly and smote upon his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:13), and went away justified.   


Do you see how quickly he was justified?  He got soiled, and he washed away the spot; he realized his sins and was released from them, the accusation of sin turned into a loosening of sin, and the enemy became a benefactor against his own will.  Is there anything more gracious than this?  If there any other, easier way of breaking free from sin?  Otherwise, how long the Publican would have labored, fasted, kept vigil, lain on the ground, given away his property to the poor, and sat in ashes in order to erase his sins.  Now, without doing any of these things, he was freed from all sin and disgrace with just a word.  The slander of the man who had obviously insulted him brought him the crown of righteousness without long-lasting efforts and labors.” 


Such are the fruits of true Christian endurance and long-suffering.  The man who is not quick to anger and knows how to endure is helping his own salvation.  The man who does not immediately take offense, but waits meekly, is humble.  The humble one always seeks the blame for everything that befalls him in himself and never in others.  Thus having realized that he himself is to blame for the insults which are hurled at him, he is angry with himself and not with others.  He unites with those that attack him and in this way in alliance with his enemies, he easily and quickly drives away the real enemy of his soul—sin.  To be continued…

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