Words of Spiritual Benefit | 1-10
Calmness is one of the beautiful qualities of the spiritual person. It includes calmness of the heart, nerves, thought, senses, behaviour and body.
A quiet person's heart never becomes troubled for any reason. He does not lose his calm no matter how the problems are caused:
As the prophet David says "Though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident" (Ps. 27:3). It is this type of calmness that comes from faith.
If one loses ones inner peace, everything will look disturbed in ones' eyes, and what is simple will seem complicated. This complication is not from the outside but from the inside. When the heart is calm the nerves will also be calm. In this case one would not lose temper but, instead, quietly solve the problem.
If the mind fails to solve a problem, the nerves interfere to help. The agitated nerves might announce the lack of a solution, and the more the nerves are troubled, the more they get agitated..
A person with a calm heart and nerves would be able to obtain quietness in thought and action. His thoughts will be balanced, void of any disturbances. Therefore, he will act in a quiet and sound way, far from anger or anxiety.
What helps a person to gain inner peace is outer peace, a peaceful environment that. has no agitating effects. For this reason, monks live in the peace of the wilderness, far from noise, people's clamour, and any agitating news or incidents. They would have usually got used to this calmness..
The life of loneliness and isolation generally brings calmness, because all the senses are calm. As our saints say, the senses are the access to thoughts. What you see, hear and touch gives you thoughts. If your senses are at rest from gathering news, you will be relieved from thoughts.
A quiet place helps the senses to be calm, and consequently leads to the calmness of the thoughts, heart and nerves. That is why many people avoid noisy places, seeking peace of mind.
Those who love calmness search for it with all their strength, but others, alas, love clamour and could not live without it. Calmness makes them bored!
2. HOW TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE
There are many ways which enable you to succeed in dealing with people and winning their hearts. By that, you can lead them, through love, to spirituality, as the Bible says: "And he that wins souls is wise." (Prov. 11:30)
1. In your own life, present the ideal that people are longing for.
2. Do not seek what people have, and they will love you. Do not make others feel that you are their rival who wants to take what they possess or what they are trying to obtain.
3. Endure others' weaknesses and win them by your patience, forgiveness and an open-heart. They will surely regret what they have done to you when they sit by themselves.
4. Praise others and make them aware of your appreciation. Make them feel that you know their good deeds and admire them.
5. Respect others and treat everyone politely, not only the elders or those you are obliged to regard, but also the young and those who are younger and lower in grade than you.
6. Work for building people, not destroying them.
7. Do not repeatedly rebuke people, and if you have to do it, try not to hurt or mistrust anyone. Do not pick on them for a word or action and avoid making them feel that you stand out as a critic or an enemy to them.
8. Find excuses for others and try your best to defend them in a rightful way, not through hypocrisy.
9. Be always ready to give and sacrifice and whoever you can't help, offer him a nice word, a smile, or a real compliment. Be up to your duties to all without failing.
10. Treat people with modesty and humility, delicacy and gentleness. Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit as the Apostles say in Gal 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness... "
11. Understand people and help them to understand you, quietly and with a good spirit. By doing this, you will be able to live with them in mutual understanding, love and peace.
12. Share in people's joys and sorrows, "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. " (Rom. 12:15) Do not miss a chance to comfort people's hearts.
3. FAITHFULNESS OVER A LITTLE
The Bible says, "You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things." (Matt. 25:21)
This means that, as you have been faithful in earthly things, I will set you over the heavenly. You have been faithful in this present world, I will set you over eternity...
This principle could be applied in many fields...
=> If you are faithful in loving your relative, God will set you over loving the enemy. He will give you the grace which enables you to love your enemy...
=> If you are faithful in serving God during your leisure time God may grant you the love to consecrate all your life for Him.
=> If you are faithful in rejecting wilful sins, God will deliver you from unwillful sins...
=> If you are faithful in keeping your conscious mind from evil thoughts, God will grant you purity of the subconscious mind and God will also grant you purity of dreams...
=> If you are faithful in childhood, God will grant you faithfulness in your youth, which has more combats.
=> If you are faithful in not judging others by words, God will enable you not to judge by thoughts, which is more difficult.
=> Likewise, if you are faithful in controlling yourself from external anger, then God will grant you freedom from internal anger, freedom from rage, envy and thoughts of anger.
=> If you are faithful in the ordinary spiritualities (the fruits of the Spirit), God may grant you gifts of the Spirit; and without faithfulness in the first, you can never get the second.
God tests you first in the little, and if you prove to be faithful, He will set you over what is more. If you show your failure and faithlessness in the little, God will hardly set you over much...
As the Bible says, "If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with the horses?" (Jer. 12:5)
It is amazing how many think themselves able to carry out big responsibilities while they are unable to cope with what is lesser. They are unable to use the grace they have, and still ask for more, forgetting God's words, "You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things," this is conditional...
4. JOY... AND JOY
There is a trivial joy for perishable, worldly affairs and pleasures...
Like Solomon's joy with what he toiled under the sun (Eccl. 1:3) and Jonahs joy with the plant more than with the Salvation of Nineveh. The same kind of joy is that of the elder son, when he said to his father, "You never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friends." (Luke 15:29)
One type of the false joy is the joy of some people over their talents as the disciples were joyful in casting evil spirits, so the Lord said to them, "Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."(Luke 10:20)
The worst type of joy is being joyful over other's suffering. About this the apostles said, "Love does not rejoice in iniquity, " (1 Cor. 13:6) as those who rejoice in people's loss. Solomon says, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls." (Prov. 24:17) This wicked joy is called gloating.
As for the holy joy, it emanates from the fruits of the spirit. (Gal. 5:22)
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord, and the Magi when they saw the star, and the righteous rejoiced over the fruits of their holy toil, "Those who sow in tears, shall reap in joy." (Ps. 126:5).
The Bible has explained to us the joy of your salvation and the joy of the shepherds when the angel said to them, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy... for there is born to you this day in the city of David a saviour.....”. The psalmist says about the joy of salvation, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation." (Ps. 51:12). And the father said, "It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again." (Luke 15:32.)
The joy of the repentance of a sinner is in heaven and earth! When the good shepherd found the lost sheep, "He lays it on his shoulders rejoicing," (Luke 15: 5). He also says, "..there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.." (Luke 15:7). The widow also rejoiced when she found her lost coin and called all her neighbours to rejoice with her.
We also rejoice over all means of grace...
"I rejoiced over your testimonies", "I was glad when they said to me 'Let us go into the house of the Lord.'" (Ps. 122: 1), "There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God." (Ps. 46:4)
The righteous rejoice over temptations and reproach: (James, Chapter 1).
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials" so I rejoice over tribulations.
The greatest joy is that of the kingdom:
"Enter into the joy of your Lord." (Matt. 25:21). This is the real joy, where we rejoice in the Lord, and in His company. Although we have not reached His kingdom yet, we rejoice while waiting in hope. As the Apostle says,
"Rejoice in hope." (Rom. 12:12).
5. THE PROBLEM OF EXCUSES
Many try to find excuses to cover up some of their sins, in order not to be blamed or to justify their failure in doing good deeds...
It is an ancient fault that goes back to Adam and Eve! Eve's excuse was that the serpent tempted her. She did not have to obey the serpent; so it is an unacceptable excuse.
Exactly like Adam's excuse that the woman gave him the fruit, again he could have refused it!
How true is the saying: the road to hell is full of excuses! Even the servant who hid his talent in the ground gave an excuse worst than his bad deed. He told his master that he was a hard man, reaping where he had not sown!!
Many find an excuse for not praying by saying that they have no time, while they have enough time for various amusements and visits. In fact, they do not have the desire to pray.
Most of those who do not offer the tithes to God say that they do not have enough, while the widow who gave the two mites from her needs did not think of an excuse. The same with the widow of Zarephath in Sidon, who offered her flour and oil to the prophet Elijah during the famine, while she badly needed them.
David, the young boy, had many excuses to avoid fighting Goliath!... He was not a soldier and nobody expected him to volunteer. He was young and even the old feared Goliath who was a giant and hard to defeat... etc, but David's fiery zeal would not allow excuses...
The robber on the right had excuses against belief but he never used them! How would he believe in a God whom he saw crucified and who seemed unable to save himself. The robber heard the people's mockery and challenges echoing in his ears but he would not take it as an excuse not to believe...
Fear was not an excuse for Daniel when he was taken to the lion's den or an excuse for the three youths when taken to the furnace...
The love of the only son could have been used as an excuse for Abraham when God asked him to offer his son, the child of promise, who was born after tens of years!!
The friends of the paralytic had many excuses, if they wanted. But the obstacles did not stop them. They uncovered the roof and let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying...
The one who overcomes hardships and does not use them as an excuse, proves the truth of his inner intentions.
But the weak-willed, or the one with a weak determination reminds us of the saying of the Bible, "the slothful man says, 'there is a lion in the road' " (Prov. 26:13)
6. FASTING AND ITS SPIRITUALITY
Fasting is not just a bodily virtue... It is not just abstaining from food for a period of time then not eating food with animal fat. There is a spiritual element in it...
The first spiritual element is controlling the will. With the same will that regulated food, one can command one's talking by not using unsuitable expressions, as well as controlling thoughts and feelings. Mar Isaac said: "Abstinence of the tongue is better than abstinence of the mouth; and abstinence of the heart is better than both."
The second element in the spiritual fast is repentance:
In the fasting of Nineveh, we notice that the people did not only abstain from eating but, "everyone turned from his evil way and from the violence that was in his hands." God looked to the repentance more than the fasting, "Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way, and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it." (Jon. 3:8- 10).
So fasting has to be accompanied by humility and contrition in front of God as it was clear in the fasting of the people of Nineveh. They also covered themselves with sackcloth and sat in ashes. It is also clear in Joel, "Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly... Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, let them say, spare Your people, 0 Lord... ' " (Joel 2:15-17).
Fasting does not mean just depriving the body of its food, but there must be a positive side, which is the feeding of the spirit.
Therefore, fasting is connected with prayer as in the Church's prayers and as it happened in all the well known fasts in the Bible such as that of Nehemiah, Ezra, Daniel and the people of Nineveh.
This is evident in the saying, "call a sacred assembly... "
It is a spiritual opportunity to mortify the body in order to elevate the spirit:
Mortifying the body is just a means, but the aim is to elevate the spirit through prayers, meditation, readings and all the means of grace, far from bodily hindrances...
We have to remember here that God rejects the fasting which is not spiritual: as the hypocrites' fasting (Matt. 6:16), and the Pharisee (Luke 18:11-12) and the wrong way of fasting, described by Isaiah. (Is. 58:3-7)
7. THE WHEAT AND THE TARES
Your job is not to pull up the tares, but to grow as wheat. When the wheat harvester comes, He will find the ears of your wheat full, and will gather thirty and sixty and a hundred until His barns are filled with wheat.
The Lord Jesus never wasted His time in resisting faults...
He did not spend the period of His Incarnation on earth struggling with those at fault or with problems of society and church. He took care of building, laying new principles and preparing people to believe in them and spread them everywhere.
It is a waste of energy to be absorbed in gathering up the tares.
The devil is ready to occupy you all the time by various problems and offers you endless mistakes. His main aim is to distract you from building yourself and building the kingdom of heaven, by fighting these mistakes.
By pulling the tares, you may lose your inner peace and probably your peace with people too; as you are going to live in a struggle.
Therefore, you will lose your quietness and serenity and maybe your meekness as well.. These problems may create an atmosphere of endless disturbances and differences that may agitate you and surround you by continual rage.
Likewise, as you lose your gentleness and quietness, you may also lose your cheerfulness. People will see you ever gloomy with no smile. Anger and sorrow might control you and you might accept them as holy anger and grief for God's sake..
This may lead you to cruelty of the heart...
You will always judge those who are wrong, revolting against their mistakes, taking the excuse of pulling up the tares from them. You will be always in clamour and you may raise your voice, rebuke and yell at people and become annoyed with everything...
During all that, you may lose your love to people and lose your gentleness. So, while you are gathering up the tares from others, you will probably pull the wheat that is in you. People will look and see you like the tares, in everything...
Few are those who could pick the tares and, at the same time, keep their wheat. Therefore, it is good that God prevented His children from pulling up the tares for fear of picking the wheat too.
It is well said in the Bible "Do not resist evil"...
The best way of gathering up tares is by setting a good example to overcome them. As a wiseman said, "Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.
8. WAYS OF SOLVING PROBLEMS
Everyone is liable to face problems, but the important thing is how to deal with them and reach a solution.
Some try to tackle a problem by violence and confrontation... whether a materialistic violence or violence of action and words.
A person talks angrily to whoever caused the problem, using force and loud voice. Clashing with people might result in losing their friendship and love...
Another person may solve a problem by using his authority, giving orders and prohibitions. That happens between a father and his children, or a husband to his wife, or a boss to his subordinates. It is easy to use authority, it does not cost anything. Authority however has many reactions which could also have the same violence. It could lead to revolting against authority... or at least, if the problem is solved on the surface, it will remain inside the heart, and in the feelings and relationships.
Some tend to escape from a problem, thinking this is the solution...
They do not face the problem but try to defer it or keep away and escape from it. This is no solution... as the problem would return after some time, troubling them and remaining there unsolved.
Others try to solve a problem by ignoring it...
One may try to convince oneself that there is no problem. One thinks that by closing one's eyes, one would not see it and it would not trouble one. The problem will remain there, but one will not talk about it, or think of it, or study it...
For each problem there are several solutions... by proper and quiet thinking and by wisdom, as King Solomon used to solve the problems presented to him or facing him.
A problem could be solved through prayer, by laying it before God and sometimes by fasting and masses, as the saints used to do...
Although some problems need a fast decision, yet others could be solved through patience and endurance...
It is not appropriate to solve a problem by creating another problem.
It is not proper either to solve a problem by doing something wrong and through non-spiritual means, like those who tackle their problems with lies or in a cunning and round about way, or by worldly tricks and deceiving people!!
9. WORDS OF CONSOLATION IN TIMES OF DISTRESS
David, the prophet, said to God, "Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction." (Ps. 119:49,50)
You too, in times of distress and hardships, remember the following sayings and you will be comforted:
=> "... and Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:20)
=> "No weapon formed against you shall prosper." (Is. 54:17)
=> "It is I, do not be afraid." (John 6:20)
=> "The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace" (Ex. 14:14)
=> "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive,... Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers, the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth." (Ps. 124:2,3,6-8)
=> "For the sceptre of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous." (Ps. 125:3)
=> "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you" (Gen. 28: 15)
=> "They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you" (Jer. 1: 19)
=> "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you .." (Acts 18:9-10)
=> "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
=> "Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me. The ploughers ploughed on my back; they made their furrows long. The Lord is righteous. He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked." (Ps. 129:2-4)
=> "You pushed me violently, that I might fall, but the Lord helped me" (Ps. 118:13)
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me." (Ps. 23:4)
=> "A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked." (Ps. 91:7-8)
=> "The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in ..." (Ps. 121:7-8)
=> "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? ... Though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear, though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident. (Ps. 27:1-3)
=> "Gird Your sword upon Your thigh ,O Mighty One , with Your glory and Your majesty." (Ps. 45:3)
=> "... the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it..." (Matt. 16:18)
10. THEORETICAL THINKING AND PRACTICAL LIFE
Theoretical thinking is just a thought without experience or actual study of the fact. This kind of thought imagines that matters proceed very naturally, without obstacles on the way, following certain rules that this thinker put in his mind.
It is exactly like a person who says that the distance between two countries by sea is so many miles. If the ship sailed at a specific speed, it should arrive on such a day, at such an hour... The ship then gets into the actual fact, where it could be hit by waves or wind and fail to move, resist with difficulty or change its direction. It might arrive after days, or it might never arrive!!
The actual fact is full of obstacles and hindrances that nobody knows, except the one who has experienced the practical life in its minute details.
The one who thinks theoretically sits at his desk and writes thoughts, just thoughts... and will be puzzled why they did not work!! He might criticise and blame. He might even go as far in his criticism as to accusation! ... He would, at least, accuse others of negligence, carelessness or lack of knowledge!!
In these theoretical accusations, he would not be aware of the practical obstacles, as the saying goes, "Woe to the thinker who is worse than a fool."
If this person was aware of the nature of the situation and the practical results and obstacles, he might have connected his thoughts together...
One obstacle may change many wise plans...
A practical person who has faced reality and experienced life would perfectly understand that matters do not proceed according to his plans and preferences?
He knows the ground that he walks on... He assumes some plans, this is also taken into consideration... Any failure he faces will add to his experience and knowledge and make his future thinking more practical...
The theoretician might think that reformation is carried out by issuing a number of orders and decisions... while the practical thinker asks what would be the effectiveness of these decisions...
When he takes a decision, he follows it practically to see its line of progress. Does it move naturally or stop? If it does stop, why? What is the solution? Does it need any modification?
My brother, do not be theoretical in your thinking. Do not be hasty in criticising others, but study the facts and be practical.