Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Difficulty of Free Will

We often describe the free will God has given us as one of His greatest gifts.  It is, after all, through free will that we can choose to be united with God out of love. Without it, it would be impossible to love.  But, unfortunately, with our free will we can also choose to ignore God's will and act only in our own interests.  In fact, isn't  this how we use it most frequently?  When we misuse it there are consequences in that we distance ourselves from God and live as sinners jeopardizing our salvation.  Sometimes, in worldly terms, it seems as if we are profiting handsomely based on measures of our material well being.  But what about our spiritual wellbeing? We may have chosen a path that yields a great financial fortune, but at the expense of living our true values. With our well being we take on added responsibilities in God's eyes to put it to do His work, not just to enhance the comforts in our worldly life.  Our aim has to be to do good out of our love for God and others.  When we use our free will in this way God will support us and reward us, if not in this life, in the life to come.

Elder Macarius says,
When our desires, illumined by ur own intelligence, are aimed at brining about good––that is the will of God on earth––and when we act in accordance with this aim, God is well pleased and supports us.  even when, in a fit of wild madness, we wish to contest His will and strive to act in a manner that conflicts with it, He still refrains from breaking our will, and permits us to act wrongly, but freely.  True, in the first case we reap our reward, in the second punishment, as is abundantly testified in Holy Scripture.
We are constantly reminded by our Church Fathers that God will never limit our use of our free will.  He will not stop us from acting against His will, because this would be to limit us and take away the possibility of us loving Him and others.  Love only comes out of free choice. This reality makes life difficult and the need for careful discernment in all of our choices.  The best advice is not to take any action based solely on our own determination, but to consult with others, especially our spiritual guide.

Final thought from the Elder,
Even those of us who enjoy long years of opulence and fame can find no consolation, no gladness, unless our heart is illumined by the steady light of peace.  It is this peace that we must seek, it is of this peace that we should pray. The peace that our Lord gave to His disciples and to all those who really have faith in Him

Reference: Russian Letter on Spiritual Direction, p 38, 39

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