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Doing Good

“In our spiritual life, only seldom do we experience immediate consequences for our actions. Very, very, seldom do I pray and see an immediate physical result. Occasionally, I pray and experience an immediate inner consequence: a sense of peace or calm, or a thought that comforts or encourages me. Most often, however, prayer begins as an obedience, something I make myself do. Then, sometimes, as I pray, I slowly experience some inner consolation or comfort. But just as often, maybe more often, prayer begins, continues and ends as an obedience, with no inner sense of consolation—much less any outward, physical consequence other than my being tired and distracted. At such times, the Fathers tell us, prayer is the most valuable. Prayer and all spiritual acts like tithing, helping at Church, caring for the sick, obeying our parents, etc. are all most valuable when we do them even though there is no immediate tangible benefit, when they are tiresome, hard, painful, and seemingly meaningless. At such moments, spiritual actions are most truly expressions of our moral freedom. At such moments we are choosing to follow Christ only for Christ’s sake. At such moments we are nothing less than Christ’s martyrs.” (Fr. Michael Gillis)

“…we should keep in mind that results are not the only thing that matters when we minister to others. The spirit in which we carry out our service also counts…when we add the appropriate attitude to what we do, we “draw the Spirit” to ourselves…Then the Spirit will abide in us and make our labors in the Lord easy. Moreover, we will “glow with the Spirit”…as we serve. Many non-believers love, are affectionate, and give to the needy, etc. It is the attitude of the Spirit that distinguishes those who follow the way of Christ from others.” (Fr. Basil, St. John Chrysostom)

“True goodness always gives offence, and the notion that if a person is truly good he or she will be liked and rewarded by the world is nonsense. A good person will always offend those whose lack of goodness and purity as revealed by the goodness of the good person. But children trained to love goodness will choose virtue all the same, preferring the praise of God to the applause of the crowd. This goodness, if it is true goodness, is not merely ethical, and has nothing to do with cold moralism with all its self-righteous judgmentalism. It is not the result of keeping abstract rules, but of sowing to the Spirit [Galatians 6:8]. It is the fruit of grace, not of self-exertion. Like the good Lord Himself, it is transcendent, divine, luminous. And acquiring such goodness is the only way to find our way home.” (Fr. Lawrence Farley)

“ 'But as for you brethren, do not grow weary in doing good' (2 Thessalonians 3:13). A warning filled with great wisdom. While sin is burdensome, we can also grow tired and fatigued by doing good.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 2 Thessalonians 3:13)

“Why would I “grow weary” in doing what is “good”? Because I experience setbacks; things do not always go as I expect, and I make mistakes, as do fellow-strugglers around me. Even when I focus on leading a God-centered life, and intend to “do what is good,” my spiritual growth is not an overnight matter. The Apostle reminds me today [Galatians 6:9] not to be a spiritual infant, but to have patience with myself and others. There is growth, even through my mistakes, even if I am not always “reaping” as I would like.” (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)


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