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The Spiritual Man, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

70- Sinful aims

 

There are people who live for themselves only, and in a sinful way:

Sometimes, all man wants in life is to build and enjoy himself. And if only it was done in a spiritual way, instead of a material, worldly and carnal manner! And to achieve that, he may destroy others , as he would remove them out of his way so he would remain... And what is more amazing is that while he is trying to build himself, he loses and destroys it. As it was said by the Lord, to Him is the glory:

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it (Mt 10: 39).

And so the Lord Jesus Christ talked about self-denial: (Mt 16: 24), and about self-sacrifice: (Jn 15: 13). The problem with the rich fool was that he wanted to enjoy himself on earth with many goods (Lk 12:19). And the problem with the rich man and Lazarus was that he : ..fared sumptuously every day (Lk 16:19). Solomon the Wise tried all the world pleasures, and found that all was vanity and grasping for the wind (Eccles 2:11)... The one who lives for himself is a sinful person. How true is the saying :

He who lived for himself has never lived.

The self should be placed at the end of the list when we arrange priorities. So we say God is first, followed by others then ourselves. But this arrangement would not be correct if there was separatism. Because both working for others and working for ourselves should be within living for God and not separated from it. And so God becomes all in all (1 Cor 15:28).

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One might say: I live for my children.

St-Takla.org Image: Solomon Builds the Temple - The building of Solomon's temple: I Kings 6:11-14 صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: سليمان النبي و الملك يبني الهيكل - بناء هيكل سليمان: 1 ملوك 6: 11-14

St-Takla.org Image: Solomon Builds the Temple - The building of Solomon's temple: I Kings 6:11-14

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: سليمان النبي و الملك يبني الهيكل - بناء هيكل سليمان: 1 ملوك 6: 11-14

He works, toils and suffers for them. He accumulates money to leave an inheritance for them. Taking care of ones children is a holy duty. But, it is wrong for one to concentrate on his children and ignore his duties towards others and towards God! He neglects Gods share in his money and also the share of the needy and keeps all for his children. Solomon the Wise says: Then I hated all my labour in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labours in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity (Eccles 2:18-19).

The good that God counts for you is the good that you yourself do and not what your children do...

Then take care of your children and take care of other people also. Live for your children and live for the whole of society.... So that you love your children, give them from your labour and toil, and you also love the poor and those who are in need and give them from your labour and toil. You love society as a whole by serving and sacrificing and you also love the church and you serve her. Your love for everyone is placed within your love for God...

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You should not have a sinful love, outside the love for God and no pure love more than your love for God...

Here the Lord says: He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (Mt 10:37) . And also all the love should be for God and the whole heart for God. The love of children and the love of people come within the love for God. The first thing in your love for your children is to make them know God and love Him, so you will be able to say to him what the Lord said: I have declared to them your name, and will declare it, that the love with which you loved Me may be in them... I have given them the words which you have given Me (Jn 17:26-28).

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There should not be a rival for God in your heart, whether a person or a thing.

Therefore the Lord compared the saints to five wise virgins (Mt 25) That is because the virgins have no connection to another person. And virginity of the heart means that it is not attached to another desire, except to draw near to God. And so St Paul the Apostle said : I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Cor 11:2). Consider David the Prophet and the King and how, in spite of all the greatness and luxury that surrounded him, he says:

But it is good for me to draw near to God. (Ps 73:28).

And he says to the Lord: There is none upon earth that I desire besides You. (Ps 73:25). By that he acquires the virtue of satisfaction with God, and says: I shall not want (Ps 23:1) . And when he expressed the desire that will satisfy his heart, he did not look at the comfort of the Kingdom, but he said: One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple (Ps 27:4) .Therefore he said: When You said, Seek My face my heart said to You, Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide Your face from me (Ps 27: 8-9). That was the only request for King David the great...

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The one who lives to the Lord does not care about the outside conditions but he lives to the Lord in any condition and in every situation.

Perhaps one of the clear examples of this matter is Joseph the Upright, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. He lived to the Lord as a son in a family. Then the situation changed to a slave in the house of a rich man, and he continued to live to the Lord in his new position. Then his situation changed to a prisoner then to a minister. But the outside positions did not affect his relationship with God at all. He lived to the Lord as a son, a slave, a prisoner or a minister. He remained the same. The situation and the position changed, but his sole aim remained: to live to the Lord. It is an unchangeable aim.

We say that because some people refuse to live to the Lord except when they are in a specific position...!

Either to have a special position in the church, or they get angry, isolate themselves and refuse to serve. Either to receive a special treatment from God, where He pampers them in a specific manner, or they take an antagonistic stand from Him....! And so they stipulate conditions for living to the

Lord...! Otherwise they leave Him. What is that, my brother?! Suppose they even sent you out of the church, would you, for that reason, refuse to live to the Lord?!

Life to the Lord should have great importance in your heart. You should never give it up whatever the reasons, the motives, or the circumstances that surround you.


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