My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIS IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"VANITY OF VANITIES, ALL IS VANITY!" [Ecclesiastes 1:2)
The major theme of the Book of Ecclesiastes of the Old Testament is that without God, ALL OF LIFE IS VANITY. The "Teacher" here has traditionally been identified as Solomon. It is understood that everything human is vain, for it is without profit (1:1-18). Furthermore, all that is, everything in life that is apart from the purpose for which God created us, is vanity.
Vainglory is considered to be one of eight principal temptations to avoid, i.e., gluttony, lust, avarice, dejection, anger, despondency, vainglory, and pride. Saint John Climacus states, "vainglory is a change of nature, a perversion of character, a taking note of criticism… Watch vainglory. Notice how, until the very day of the burial it rejoices in clothes, oils, servants, perfumes, and such like… A vainglorious man is a believer–and an idolator. Apparently honoring God, he actually is out TO PLEASE NOT GOD BUT MEN. To be a showoff IS TO BE VAINGLORIOUS."
It is true when Saint Paul says, "No one knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit within him" (1 Corinthians 2:11). It is easy to seduce a prideful man by the demon of vainglory. A person who has no humility or shame believes in self-aggrandizement and thrives by flattery and praise. According to Saint Climacus "The servant of vainglory leads a double life." Outwardly he appears to be meek and humble but inwardly he is vainglorious.
Everything that an Orthodox Christian does must be done for the sake of Christ, for the glory of Christ. The believer believes himself to be a willing slave and a servant of servants. Praise belongs only to the Almighty and Loving God and NOT to us. "We have done nothing good on earth." We are unworthy, sinful, corrupt, disobedient, proudful, egotistical, and vain. Our greatest honor, blessing, and privilege is to serve God and God alone. Saint John Climacus reminds us, "When those who praise us, or, rather, those who lead us astray, begin to exult us, we should briefly remember the multitude of our sins and in this way, we will discover THAT WE DO NOT DESERVE WHATEVER IS SIAD OR DONE IN OUR HONOR."
"Vainglory, fully grown, can give birth to pride, which is the beginning and the END OF ALL EVIL, writes Saint John. We ought to know that pride and vanity are partners in crime. Both bring misery, unhappiness, and emptiness. Neither can bring us any kind of fulfillment or sense of worth. One who believes that is delusional and out of touch with reality. It is only the love of God and love for our fellow man which will give us a sense of purpose, accomplishment, inner peace, warmth, and a heart filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Criticism is a good thing and must not be rejected by us. Saint John says, "To reject criticism is to show pride, while to accept it is to show oneself free of this fetter." Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ says, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29). A sign of Jesus' Lordship IS HIS MEEKNESS–He is "gentle and lowly. King David emphasized that the Lord would teach His ways TO THE MEEK (Psalm 25:9). Meekness is the mother of love the foundation of discernment and the forerunner of humility. Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ "finds rest in the hearts of the meek, while the turbulent spirit is home to the devil."
Life without Christ has no meaning or purpose. It is He Who is our life, our God, our only Savior, our only hope, our salvation, our true joy, and our Master. Jesus knows exactly who a person is "for a tree is known by its fruit" (Matthew 12:33). No one can hide from Him and to believe that we can deceive Him is not foolish but blasphemous. Along with vainglory (mataiodoxia) , there is also empty glory (kenodoxia). The Orthodox Christian believes, strives, and seeks the acquisition of the grace of the Holy Spirit and NOT vainglory or kenodoxia.
Pray and do not lie either to yourself or to God. Set your sights and mind to heavenly things and not this of the world which are fleeting and temporary. Our aim is Eternal life and the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Glory and Light. Be an obedient servant of Christ and glory in Him. Daily life ought to be virtuous, kind, compassionate, and loving. Seek your true life in Christ awaiting the heavenly and glorious final apocalypse. Begin your day by glorifying Our Creator and recite Psalm 50: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thine lovingkindness…"
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and
the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George