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Pitying Yourself

[I Tim. 5:11–21; Luke 17:26–37]

Whoso­ev­er shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whoso­ev­er shall lose his life shall pre­serve it. One must under­stand it this way: to save your life means to pity your­self, while to lose your life means not pity­ing yourself—that is, on the path of the Lord’s com­mand­ments, or in work­ing for the Lord. So, it is like this: he who works for the Lord, ful­fill­ing His com­mand­ments with­out pity­ing him­self, is saved; but he who pities him­self, per­ish­es. If you pity your­self you will unfail­ing­ly be found as a trans­gres­sor of the com­mand­ments and, con­se­quent­ly, an unprof­itable ser­vant; and what is the sen­tence for an unprof­itable ser­vant? Cast ye the unprof­itable ser­vant into out­er dark­ness: there shall be weep­ing and gnash­ing of teeth (Matt. 25:30). Make an effort to watch your­self if only for a sin­gle day, and you will see that self-pity dis­torts all of our [good] deeds and kills the desire to do them. With­out labour and effort, you will not be able to do any­thing; but if you regret forc­ing yourself—it all stops there. There are things which you must do, whether you want to or not. Such things are done with­out fail, dif­fi­cult as they may be. But here self-pity is over­come by self-pity. If you don’t do them, there will be noth­ing to eat. But since what is required by the com­mand­ments are not of such nature, they are always omit­ted out of s elf-pity. You make con­de­scen­sions to your­self when it comes to bad deeds, also out of self-pity. You hate to refuse your­self what you want and so the desire is ful­filled, even though it is either out­right sin­ful, or will lead to sin. Thus it always goes with one who pities himself—what he should do, he does not, and what he should not do, he indulges him­self in doing; and he ends up good for noth­ing. What sal­va­tion can there be here?

Saint Theo­phan the Recluse