Monday, April 8, 2013

Why Do We Do Good?


Is it right to do good so we can get to Paradise where we will be protected and comfortable?  But what is our motivation for this? Is it not a bit self-centered? Here we have to be careful. We know its not good to wast our life with evil deeds. But when we do good for the sake of obtaining Paradise, what are we saying?

Elder Paisios tells us he is not concerned whether he will go to Paradise. He says:
...I am not concerned with where I am going. I have set myself aside. Not that I want to be separated from Christ and so am not concerned whether I'll go to Paradise; but rather it is not my goal to do good just to get to Paradise. So I say, "Even if you set me aside, Lord, I will still be satisfied; I am not worthy of Paradise."
Our aim must be to do good out of the love of God and to be satisfied with His judgment, trusting in His love where He will place us.  The motivation for our good acts must be the love of Christ and not for some self-centered benefit for ourselves.

There are many today in this environment of heroism and self-gratification who seek a spiritual life for some benefit.  They want peace, they want less stress, they want eternal life, they want a spiritual experience, and so forth.  It all about what they want.

Elder Paisios says:
Let us not do good expecting to receive wages like a hireling; let us do good out of love for Christ. We must guard against the calculating human spirit of selfishness, of self-interest and self-love. We must keep in mind that Christ sees us, He is observing us, and we must be ever vigilant not to grieve Him. Otherwise, our faith and our love become worn out and frayed.
The spiritual disciplines we undertake as taught by the Church may in fact lead us to a healthier life but this is not our purpose. It's a side effect. We do not fast and pray for physical benefits. We do it to become closer to the one we love, Jesus Christ.

Why do we do good deeds?  Because we love Jesus Christ and want to follow Him, doing His will as obedient servants of His.  It is our love of God that brings us into union with Him.

Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual counsels III: Spiritual Struggle, pp 133-135

2 comments:

  1. We must do good, because Jesus commands us to do good. And he has done eternal good in our behalf. All the law and the prophets hang on the love of God and the love of our neighbor. We know that God desires to bless us, but the greatest blessing we may ever know is to know him. We do good, because the Holy Spirit fills us with the power to love God to the extent that good works become as essential to the Christian as drawing breath. And God does not promise to spare us hardship; he promises us himself, now and for eternity. Can we truly say "though you slay me, yet will I trust in you?" That we should ask for material blessings for ourselves above our plea to be advanced in holiness, is to miss God's lasting gift for things that are temoral and fleeting.

    So when we pray, let us pray that God give us more of himself and conform us more fully to the likeness of Jesus, that we might be more useful to him in this earthly life. Let us seek first his kingdom and his righteousness that God may delight to bless us with that which he knows we need. But above all things, let us pray that we might grow in the grace of holiness, that our joy, as we are received into his glorious presence, might be complete and everlasting.

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  2. Thank you for you thoughts Decades. Yes, We do good out of our love of Jesus. Because of our love we follow what He commands. Through our love expressed in our way of life we receive the gift of Grace and this gives us the courage an strength to do His will instead of our own self-centered will. This is the height of Christian spirituality, a true union with God where we are able to align our will with His.
    I like your thought, "let us pray that God give us more of himself and conform us more fully to the likeness of Jesus, that we might be more useful to him in this earthly life."

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