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God Pleasing Deeds

[I Tim. 1:1–7; Luke 14:12–15] As an indi­ca­tor of whom to in­ vite to a din­ner take for your­self a rule: do not do any­thing for your neigh­bor with a view to rec­om­pense from him here. But this does not mean that you will spend every­ thing in vain. In due course all will be returned to you. In the Ser­mon on the Mount about all God-pleas­ing deeds —prayer, fast­ing, and alms —the Lord com­mand­ed to do them se­ cret­ly. Why? Because the Heav­en­ly Father will reward you open­ly. There­fore, a Chris­t­ian should pre­ pare future bliss for him­self through all his labours in life; he should build him­self an eter­nal home, and send pro­vi­sions there in advance for all eter­ni­ty. This is not being mer­ce­nary, because one’s own mate­r­i­al inter­ests as such are lim­it­ed to this life, while [the fu­ ture] life is to detri­ment of these in­ ter­ests. Fur­ther­more, it is impossi­ ble to live this way with­out faith, hope and love towards the Lord. Act­ing accord­ing to the command­ ments in hope of rec­om­pense is also an abstract action. And yet it is clos­ er and more dis­tinct for the heart than any­thing else which is too un­ real, as for exam­ple to do good for the sake of good. You will not find the lat­ter any­where in Scrip­tures. The high­er incen­tive is here: do ev­ ery­thing for the sake of the Lord and do not fear loss.

Saint Theo­phan the Recluse