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God rewards you when you don’t expect

Christians, as well as other people who don’t go to church very often, know very well that a good deed is always rewarded. Even children know from small ages that bringing joy to their parents by their deeds, they will be rewarded.

Christ has promised that for every good deed, no matter how small it is, we won’t lose our reward, neither here, nor in His Reign.

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Mark 9, 41)

From my experience I can tell you, as many others, that the Lord is very good and He really gives rewards one hundred times bigger here on earth. About the reward in Heaven I can only hope, because I don’t know exactly what it’ll be. I hope, through His mercy, that I won’t go to Hell.

I don’t know how others are, but when I heard the words:
”And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19,29)
I thought about this mathematically: I give a bread, I receive 10. I give 10 dollars to somebody poor, I shall receive 1000 lei.

Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, says:

” Will receive a hundred times ” means the richness of Christ’s grace, which is present in the souls of those who love Him “with all their heart, all their soul and all their mind” (Matthew 22,39)

Mathematical calculation doesn’t really make any sense, because there are a lot of times when we can give non-material things: forgiveness, understanding, encouragement and love. And all these can’t be measured materially, thus neither the reward can’t be estimated in a material way.
When I entered the Church, a few years, a friend of mine asked me:

“Why do you fast? Why do you help the poor? Why do you do good deeds?”

I responded sincerely: “so that I can get a reward from God and be able to go to Heaven.” This friend, who then declared herself an atheist, today having changed her opinions a lot, told me that I’m a double-faced because I do my good deeds because I have an interest, when I should be doing them out of love, without expecting a reward.

To me that answer was a cold shower, and since then I thought a lot about the motivation I have whenever I help somebody. The reward for good deeds is actually an intelligent bait to attract people to God. If you tell somebody who does not believe in God, that coming to the Church and closer to Christ, he shall be filled with God’s grace and he will go to His Kingdom, he won’t be very glad. But if you tell him that Jesus can solve his material problems, that Christ gives a reward even for a cold water glass given to the poor, then he will surely become interested.

The reward for good deeds is only a momentary motivation, to help you to go to another level: to do good deeds without any interest.

The conclusion is simple: God wants us to get to love Him. To be able to love Him, we need to listen to his commandments. And His commandments tell us to love those around us. The motivation of maintaining relations between us must be love.

At the beginning, you will only do good for the reward which God gives you. And he will give it to you! But then you will notice that the reward can’t motivate you to do bigger things. The reward limits you in your doing of good deeds.

Who forgives to whom has made a mistake for the reward in the Kingdom of God? Who gives up his good to the good of those around him, waiting for a reward? Who gives his life for his friend, having as a motivation only the reward? Very few or basically nobody. These things are done from unconditional love.

Love will motivate you to do even more that you ever imagined. Every good deed done for a reward will give you the impression that you did enough, and that you deserve a big reward. Every good deed done out of love will give you the impression that you can give even more, that you could have done more.
The verse from “The First Epistle to the Corinthians”, where Saint Paul the Apostle says that whatever you give and whatever you have, if you don’t have love, you are nothing. You might think that giving all your riches to the poor you will receive a reward in Heaven. Paul says it isn’t enough if you don’t also have love. You might think that being the most intelligent person and giving advice to others you shall be rewarded, but Paul reminds us that without love you can’t do anything good.

Love is the biggest gift you can give to somebody. Your love showed to another gives birth to love in his heart. Your love towards those around you is greeted by God’s love to both of you.

Yes, God does give hundredfold, but not the way we think. Not anytime and not anywhere. Christ will give you back more when you don’t expect the reward.

Who has hope in Christ only for this life is absolutely wrong.
God watches the heart of the person when he does a good deed, he sees his motivation.
Saint Basil the Great used to say that man can be characterized in three ways, depending on the good deed that he does:
1. if he does it out of fear of hell, it enslaves him
2. if he does it in order to be re-paid here, he will be enslaved in this life
3. if he does the good deed without wanting anything, but because of love of God, that will make the man a son of God.

Saint Isaac the Syrian says that: “wisdom has two heads: at one head, the fear of God and at the other the love of God. The good deed starts with the fear of God and ends with the love of God.” Also, Saint Isaac the Syrian: “happy is the man who knows his helplessness, because this knowledge will become the foundation, root and starting point of all good deeds.”
Saint Efrem the Syrian: “God doesn’t look at how big is the gift you give, but at the will with which you bring it.”
Saint Isidor, the apprentice of Saint John Chrysostom, who has written thousands of epistles to the Church of Christ, says: “when in man the word and good deed shall become one, they will make man the icon of all philosophy.”

(Claudiu)

Translated by Costin Matei

I am thirsty! Give me something to drink…

“I’m so thirsty … But no, I cannot leave you alone. I’m so thirsty that a full glass of water would be too small for the thirst that is in me. But why am I talking about a glass of water? … now it’s fashionable to buy a refreshing drink from the Coca-Cola Company, we do live in the XXI century …

Well, unfortunately no such drink would quench my thirst. I try to lay my thoughts on paper. I try to tell other young people, how deep it is … this thirst nested in a corner of my desecrated heart …

But let’s get over the introduction. “I am thirsty! Give me to something to drink … “- Sounds familiar? Though not many young people recognize it, everyone is thirsty.

Our questionable attitude, our un-spiritual, unlit, wild, untransformed nature, scattered everywhere and stuck in the place, form and images of our sins and the sins of this world cause this thirst, this “lack” born in us. “I am thirsty! Give me something to drink … “does not refer to a natural cry, a cry for help, but refers to an endless cry, a relentless cry of the heart.

Today young people want to be the best, to get to the top; they get thirsty through their little or big rebellions, always trying to create something of their own, something completely new and independent. But then,  this “something “ often causes a worldly craving, so if “anyone drinks this water will thirst again” …

The thirst born in us since childhood, symbolizes the lack of love and communion, symbolizes the lack of the highest level, namely: love. This thirst of the young man, reflects the alienation from  the holy;  alienation and also the escape in a world of sin, in a vicious circle of lust, a circle based on thoughts, feelings caught in a fabulous mirage of time.

The void created in us by this spiritual emptiness brings us to seek out the deepest meanings of our lives. We wonder who could quench our thirst. Who could fill this void in the depths of our being?

To our question, Christ comes and says: “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! “.

There is only one way we can come to Christ, one way we can approach Him, and we can receive love. This path refers to the relentless training, the relentless pursuit to become stronger, more able to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit and more worthy to drink from the Cup of Eternity. Only through Christ we can share the original depths of His love. Only through Christ the thirst that dwells in us, will cease:”whoever drinks the water I give them, will never thirst. “

The youngster who thirsts for Christ, the young man who wants light, truth and life, will remove the unnatural thoughts. Christ actually helps in the permanently discovery of thoughts, He alone enlightens us to identify those foreign thoughts, conceived in us.

The thirst of the contemporary young explains in a paradoxical way, the normal anxiety, the search state, the spiritual anxiety that always keeps you awake and aware that everything that is out of Life, is doomed to absurdity. Those who say they are living and do not have Christ, they are not living. The Cup of Eternity, about which I wrote in the previous lines, is the water of the everlasting life that only Christ can give. It frees us all from darkness, sin, fear and hesitation, it gives us the strength and power, brings us unending joy, immeasurable understanding and love for others. Water leads to eternity, as our Savior says “the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. “

In the 5th Sunday after Easter Gospel the unlimited meets the limited; the woman’s thirst proves the insufficiency and the powerlessness of the existence by itself. This failure and helplessness we find even in ourselves, because we cannot return to the ways of God, without Him raising us up, giving us strength. He helps us get out of any deadlock of our journey, help us get through all the ups and downs of this life.

Christ urges us all to get closer to Him and drink the water of life. The Lord listens to your heart cry and pours over it rivers of healing and redemption. Christ sees the soul which yearns for the true and overwhelming mercy and His love for mankind.

Like the woman of Samaria, let us dare to approach the Savior and Giver of all heavenly and eternal things.

Let us ask Him for the water of life, water that makes us regardless of age … eternal, insurmountable, immortal. Water that makes us wish for Him, the Lord, to be more and more present in our souls …

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”

 (Psalm 41:1).

(Georgiana)

Translated by Irina Holospin

Stress – a modern sin

When I was younger, I hardly understood why so much fuss about stress from grown-ups, parents, uncles, aunts, brothers. Who hasn’t heard people at work, at school or within their family saying things like: “My head kills me with so much stress” or “I’m so stressed I don’t have time to finish this or that thing”?

Apparently, this more and more dynamic world we live in hurls us into a dirty and subtle war that nobody wants to be in: Stress!

This slow death of mental health that entered our lives insidiously, is ravaging the urban population.

My own experience tells me there are three stress-generating causes:

  • Deadlines against the clock
  • Over-dimensioning the gravity of the problem
  • Paying too much attention in our minds to a certain concern

Recently though, I realized I’ve never heard my grandparents (generally the old population, and other relatives and acquaintances from the countryside, where faith is still alive) say that they are stressed. I wonder why? Well, we city folks have a lot of problems and very little time, whereas rural people have as many problems, the same “little” time as we do, but unlike us they don’t let their minds to starve and feed it every day with prayers.

Sometimes, the burden of our problems won’t even let us eat in peace, think of something beautiful, positive, thus the stress of problem-solving being like a faithful guardian next to us, that we go to bed at nights in our thoughts, so that when we wake up, unwillingly it is the first thing that comes into our mind: “Today I have so many problems to solve, I don’t think I have time, I don’t know what to do.” My boss or my coworker stress me out, the teacher at school, exams, projects that I don’t have time to do, the above neighbor pressures me, in conclusion, everything in our life becomes a stress factor. And we’re always agitated, in a rush to… to burry joy… the joy that we’re healthy, that we have parents, friends in need and so many other gifts God gave us. In other words, we give up everything we received for free, in exchange for worries.

Thousands of articles have been written on stress: cause, effects, cures that are more and more redeeming, from fistful of drugs, games, anti-stress balls to relaxation therapy and culinary recipes… but they were of no use, until I couldn’t handle it anymore and I said: “God, I can’t do this anymore!”

For my little “demand” God immediately gave me a remedy:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew, 11:28-30)

Who can say no to such calling?!?

(Dan)

Translated by Ileana Cristea