top of page

Latest Thoughts

Recent Blogs

Self and Self-Will

“It is so tempting to identify the way of the Lord with whatever or whomever we happen to admire, but that usually serves only as a distraction from the repentance necessary to acquire the purity of heart to which He calls us. Whenever we invoke Christ to reinforce our preconceived notions, regardless of how moral or justified we think our goals may be, we risk becoming guilty of the idolatry of trying to use God to get what we want in this world on our own terms. Those who oppose or disagree with our agendas will then appear to us as wicked people we are justified in hating and condemning. Following that path will bring no light to anyone. Instead, it will bring more darkness by giving the impression that the way of Christ is no different from life as usual in our world of corruption.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“The wedding garment [Matthew 22:11] would have been provided by the king, and therefore the man had no excuse for not wearing one; thus he is speechless. His refusal to wear the garment that was provided is an illustration of those who refuse God's hospitality, or who want His Kingdom on their own terms. Specifically, the garment refers to the baptismal garment, and by extension, a life of faith, repentance, virtue, and charity. Without these, a person will ultimately be cast into outer darkness.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 22:11-13)

“A good person is corrupted by wanting to do good—but to do it on his own terms, believing he knows what is right for everyone else. In Christian terms, this is the opposite of humility, and especially of that humility before God that allows us to be led and shaped by him in order to achieve the real purpose for which we were created.” (Stratford Caldecott)

“An ever present yet subtle temptation is to do good on our own terms. In The Lord of the Rings, the wizard Gandalf, who was essentially an incarnate angel sent to do the will of God and help those who chose to resist and fight evil, refused to take the One Ring when it was offered to him because he said that he would be tempted to do good with it. But the power of the One Ring was to dominate the wills of others; so what would begin with good intent would end in maniacal self-will. This illustrates a fundamental problem of seeking to do good on our own terms versus letting it be a natural outgrowth of our relationship and union with God. Our human will is too damaged to sustain goodness apart from God, and what starts off as good intent becomes is essential for us, as Christians, to be conscious of our limitations and of our dependence on the Holy Spirit that moves in the Church. If we attempt to live life on our own terms, we quickly discover how easy it is to err. This is why the wily enemy constantly invites us to operate “right in [our] own eyes (Prv 12:17).” (Sacramental Living Ministries, Dynamis 3/24/2020)

“God is only found in reality. Reality is different for each person. We psychologists are fond of saying, “Perception is reality,” that is, the way we see things is, for us, the way things are. So we can acknowledge, accept, and affirm reality, or we can try to live in an alternate reality, one we make with our imagination. I am sometimes surprised by the way some people try to force reality into their own terms. Needless to say, this doesn’t work too well.” (Albert S. Rossi, PhD)

“Many people today, dazzled by the possibility of “reinventing” themselves, perceive no limits on what they can become. “Be everything you can imagine,” they tell themselves. The illusion that we can define ourselves is as old as the human race. Christians, however, recognize that its source lies in the song of the serpent, who used identical “sales talk” to deceive our first parents into believing that they could “be like gods” (Gn 3:5). This fatal error has wreaked havoc on mankind ever since.” (Dynamis 10/14/2019)

“The proud do not wish to live according to the will of God, they prefer to direct their own lives, and they do not understand that man lacks the capacity to direct his own life without God.” (St. Silouan the Athonite)

“When our will is opposed and frustration builds up inside us, we may be sure that it is our own sin and the promptings of demons that arouse fear within.” (Dynamis 10/15/2019)

“Our free will gives us either a propensity to virtue, or an inclination to sin…humans are aligned either with mortal Adam or the crucified and risen Christ…Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” (St. Ambrose of Milan, Edith M. Humphrey, Francis of Assisi)

“Your real, new self…will not come when you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him…At the end of ourselves, we can become ourselves…If we don’t know God, it’s impossible to really know ourselves…” (C.S. Lewis, Father Barnabas Powell, Marlena Graves)

“Self-will obscures our limited human reasoning. As the Apostle Paul asks, “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor 1:20). Are we above the temptation to think ourselves wiser than God? Does His will seem too extreme at times? Let us bear in mind that we are better off when we obey first, rather than discovering later that we missed the wisdom of God’s path. As is so often the case, self-will prevails.” (Dynamis 9/10/2019)

“…the first thing damaged in Adam's nature was his will, and in our corrupted state, this weakened will is prone to falling into sin. Christ has two wills, one human and one divine. His human will is totally and willingly subject to the divine will. Through Christ's obedience, healing is brought to man's human will…However, we must choose to seek Christ first above all other desires. He never abandons us but we often abandon Him, or come to Him only in need and then fall away when the need is met and slip back into self-will… The ultimate reason people do not come to Christ is that they do not want to.”(Orthodox Study Bible, Romans 5:19, Sacramental Living Ministries, Foundation Study Bible, John 3:20)

“…we often disturb and interfere in God’s plan. We have the freedom either to accept His will or to reject it; God, Who is love, does not wish to take this freedom away from us. We have been given complete freedom, but we, in our foolishness, often have many useless desires.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

“To be in the position of once having known the way of the Lord, and then to have turned and followed a path of disobedience and rebellion is a miserable position. It is the cause of great heartache for the faithful ones who see it happening. The backslider becomes more and more hardened against God, and it will ultimately affect a wider and wider group of people. There is no security or safety while persisting in a course of flagrant and continuous rebellion.” (Foundation Study Bible, Deuteronomy 29:18)

“Obedience is constructive, and self-will is destructive…The Kingdom of God will not make its abode in the heart of a person who has no obedience, for such a person always wants his will—rather than God’s—to be done. In the Kingdom of God, there is no possibility of a kingdom within a kingdom.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

The word “idiot” in our English language ultimately comes from the Greek reflexive pronoun idios, which means “one’s self.” When we consider only our own outcome, we act idiotically and ignorantly.” (Kevin Scherer)

“We never “create ourselves”...We are not the makers of our own reality. There is such a wonderful liberation in this when we begin to truly understand it. We do not bring ourselves into existence, nor do we form and create our world. Our present reality is not the result of some chain of decisions and consequences. Such naive reductionism (often posited by many religious people) simply fails to adequately describe even the smallest portion of our reality and that which is rightly termed, “the self.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“…we won’t find answers to the fundamental questions of purpose and meaning on our own. We have to come to a place of humility where we can admit that we must go where Christ is in order to find out about ourselves.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“… my will isn’t enough. My own ambitions, motivations, and intentions easily go astray by something like self-seeking; they can also be paralyzed by fear, sloth, or whatever. I know I need to leave room for the grace of God’s perfect will, to keep my will on track. Daily communion with Christ opens that door, when I pray with Him, “Thy will be done.” (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“Christ leads us out of separation from God, away from a “self” defined by our will and passions, into a new life that is the work of His hands, the fruit of His will, the created glory of His eternal, unending and glorious life.” (Bishop Irenei Steenberg)

Quote of the Day


bottom of page