How to Guard Your Heart
Lifeless things offer no satisfaction
The lifeless things of this world offer no spiritual satisfaction, yet we often sell ourselves off to things or people by giving them power over our hearts. It is easy to feel abandoned or hurt by those to whom we've given power. If we need affirmation from others we take the chance that we empower demons who would use our personal needs to keep us from focusing on that which is eternal.
My own struggle for acceptance within the Russian Church has always resulted in disappointment whenever I've allowed my heart to be owned by fellow clergy or bishops. My need for affirmation from others always distracts me from focusing on God. Ownership of my heart should be reserved for God alone. Evil spirits use whatever means they can to make me feel abandoned, discounted or unloved by anyone that I've allowed to own my heart.
Service to the Church does not protect a man from the demons of pride. I, like so many priests before me, have learned that I must guard my heart. We clergy can easily be distracted from our service to God if we allow ourselves to become envious of the recognition other priests get from the bishop. If a priest feels his work for the Church goes unnoticed by his bishop, his ministry can die on the spot. I've witnessed many a brother priest loose his enthusiasm for ministry when he's seen other, often much younger clergy, raised in rank while he's passed over. If we force ourselves to see God's will in this as a way of humbling us, we will ultimately gain that which is of eternal value, the Pearl of Great Price. Rank, awards and recognition are all nice, but not if they come at the price of having lost our soul.
Priests are in service to God so they are particularly susceptible to the attacks of demons, for the evil one wants to lessen the impact of our service to God's people by attacking our feelings of self worth. Like all people, if we clergy keep our focus on God, we don't need the love of our bishops or the respect of other clergy. God's love is sufficient, for only our relationship with God has lasting and eternal value.
Sometimes we have to pull ourselves back from others and enter into The Silence. This self imposed exile is the spiritual retreat that helps us focus on what we have in God.
With love in Christ,
Monday August 29, 2011 / August 16, 2011
12th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.Afterfeast of the Dormition.
Translation of the Image Not-Made-By-Hands of our Lord Jesus Christ from Edessa to Constantinople (944).
Martyr Diomedes the Physician of Tarsus in Cilicia (298).
33 Martyrs of Palestine.
New Hieromartyr Stephen priest (1918).
2 Corinthians 5:10-15
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Be Reconciled to God12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
9 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”