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“Today’s business climate puts a premium on efficiency. Management models focus on ways to save time and energy to increase profits. However, efficiency does not equal effectiveness. One can be most efficient, but our work may not be worthwhile. Today in our reading of Ephesians 4:14-19, Paul warns his flock against living as other Gentiles do in the “futility of their mind” (vs. 17)…The Greek term translated as “futility” refers to what is empty, meaningless, and in vain…From the apostles’ spiritual point of view, the unbelieving citizens of the Roman empire are living unproductive and ineffective lives despite their efficiency…The Romans were very good at certain things: architecture, roads, baths, cisterns, transport, oratory, the arts, partying, and waging war. But what did all these things accomplish in the measure of eternity? Moreover, there was an underside to Roman prosperity, not only slavery but immorality, avarice, and indulgence (vs. 19).” (Fr. Basil)

“…the deepest and most corrupt sinners among us can also appear to be the most moral. If the morality of your life does not reach beneath the surface and into the depths of the corruption that is at work there, then your life is indeed an expression of moral futility.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“ ‘It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he provides for those whom he loves even when they sleep.’ (Psalm 127:2)…He gives to his beloved, sleep.”…The point seems to be this: Hard work by itself is not what counts, but one’s relationship to God, for God is able to bless an individual even while he sleeps…The statement is not advocating laziness, but utilizing hyperbole to give perspective and to remind the addressees that God must be one’s first priority….Hard work by itself is futile…He blesses on the basis of one’s relationship to him, not on the basis of physical energy expended.” (NET Bible, Psalm 127:2)

“Although all of our celebrations are intimately rooted in the knowledge that we have been called for complete communion with Christ and to live in function of His Kingdom to which we already belong, we still live in a world that has for the most part rejected what Christ gave it, that is, authentic life “in abundance,” life with real purpose and meaning. We Christians, in spite of having accepted what God’s intervention in human affairs gave us, slip repeatedly and fall into the great temptation to convert the things of this world into gods. We are constantly attracted by ways of seeking happiness and fulfillment that exclude God. This, of course, always proves to be vain and futile. So our lives vacillate, back and forth, between the assurance of salvation and indifference, between moments of real joy because we know that God is with us, and moments of boredom because we cannot give ourselves totally over to Him.” (Archbishop Dmitri of Blessed Memory)

“Humanism rightly sees that man is a glorious being, but it errs in supposing that man can be glorious while rebelling against God. Secular humanism (there have been many varieties of humanism throughout the years) even declares that man’s glory consists in rebelling against God. All this is futile. Man finds his true dignity while kneeling before God; his true calling in gratefully adoring Him.” (Fr. Lawrence Farley) 

“St. Paul warns us several times in his Epistles about futile thinking, futile faith, and futile perception of reality. It all starts with not understanding and/or not accepting the truth of Christ. His knowledge comes from the experience of someone who once was confident in his own thinking apart from Christ until Christ showed him the futility of it as we read in the Book of Acts. Christ specifically tells Paul that he is ‘kicking against the goads’ (Acts 9:5)…Here Christ is declaring the futility of fighting against divine truth.” (Sacramental Living Ministries, Orthodox Study Bible, Acts 9:5)

“The apostle Paul provides an account of how human beings failed to retain the true knowledge and revelation of God: ‘What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.” (Rom. 1:19-23) (Father Demetrios J. Constantelos)

“This is the rat race, the broad path. It is the wide-open pursuit of this world to the exclusion of God. In a nutshell, this broad path always leads to living for self. For self-fulfillment, self-comfort self-preservation. For money, knowledge, popularity, respect, prestige, position, or possessions. It is living to make a living rather than living to make a life. It is the mindless, futile pursuit of this world.” (Steven Lawson)

“The natural tendency of human beings is to think their way away from God…Intellectual pride, rationalizations, and excuses all keep people from God…We humans, you see, have an infinite capacity for self-rationalization…God’s way of thinking is far above ours; He knows all the futile thoughts of the “wise.” (Life Application Study Bible, Ephesians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 18-21, Chuck Colson)

“We all recognize the futility of trying to improve behavior without taming the heart. The Christian may go to church and sing hymns and give alms and adorn the world with plentiful evidence of his faith, yet still fly into a rage when provoked or seethe with jealousy when slighted or burn with lust when aroused or swell with pride when praised. So, some deeper change is needed. Christian life is about becoming a new creation in Christ; it’s the daily renewal of the inward man (II Corinthians 5:17 and 4:16). It is to follow St. Seraphim’s advice to acquire not peace in and of itself, but the Spirit of peace. Such inner renewal brings the heart under the control of the Holy Spirit, who then releases the attributes of Galatians 5 through us according to His time, His measure, His purpose, and His glory.” (Fr. John Oliver)

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