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Character (and Testing and Temptation)

“Abraham’s “Test”- The example of Abraham presents the paradigm, the model…The Greek word translated tested is also rendered “tempted.” That does not mean that the Lord enticed Abraham to sin. Rather, the word means to “search into.” It refers to the test of a person’s character, his inner disposition, the distinctive qualities that he is “made of”…Because Abraham did not hesitate to obey the Lord’s terrible command, he became the model of faith for all time. His “temptation” revealed that at the core of his being was his firm conviction of the faithfulness of God and the undaunted trust in the promise of the Almighty.” (Fr. Basil)

“God may test us, but He never tempts us. How we experience this testing, as either testing or temptation, is based on our character and the subsequent choices we then make. God tests us to help us grow. The test is always something we have the capacity to respond to with the right choices and actions. It usually comes at a pivotal time in our lives when God knows we need to change direction or go to the next level in our growth. Our failure is not because God tested us beyond what we could bear. Our failure is giving into our passions and clinging to self-will.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Evil desires are a product of loose character, uncontrolled and malnourished. The human heart, if it is not well protected and shielded, will become a prey of the evil spirit and an instrument of diabolical activities against society. "Let no one say when be is tempted, 'I am tempted by God', for God cannot he tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" James 1:13-15. A person who is nourished in the pastures of the Gospel should bear true witness for his neighbor, and thus become the very channel of the Gospel of Christ, which is the truth par-excellence that prevails forever…The Beatitudes provide the specifications for the architecture of Christian character. Accepted as a whole, they provide the ingredients for the upright Christian character:” (Rev. George Mastrantonis)

“Jesus revealed His own character in [His] parables. His purpose was to lead the hearer to Him and to compel a response to His challenge. Parables are never told to amuse people; they are not merely interesting or entertaining. They are of a revelatory character.” The Hebrew and Aramaic words for parable are, respectively, mashal and mathla. Whatever the meaning—allegory, riddle, symbol, story—the parable [of the Sower] is meant to challenge our way of thinking and “to compel a response” to the gift of the Kingdom of God as presented by Jesus. One cannot “walk away” from a parable of Christ’s…parable is not only about the sadly inevitable reality that “many” will lose the seed-word of the Sower upon hearing it because of the evil one, persecution and mammon. Christ is telling us that despite that unholy triad of temptations, there will still be an abundant harvest that will yield a “hundredfold.” In fact, that may be the most significant point about the parable. When we hear the Word of God, our concern is to “hold it fast in an honest and good heart.” This, in turn, will cultivate “fruit with patience.” (Fr. Stephen Kostoff)

“The references to the Old Testament faithful of today’s passage [Hebrews 11:17-21, 23-27] are on the overarching scale of sacred history. But our thoughts may be applied to the trials and tribulations of our lives. Times of duress like these prove our character just as surely as the tests of the faithful heroes that we read about today. May the challenges that we face in our times also prove that our innermost character is unwavering faith, faith that actively chooses the ways of the God of promise.” (Fr. Basil)


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