On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 133: Desire (2/12/17)
“For the desire of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.” (Galatians 5: 17 RSV)
The Holy Fathers teach us that there are two types of desire, divine and carnal/sensual. When God created man, He placed within man a seed of divine desire. The desire to be with God, to commune with Him. Man’s joy came from being with God, and there was that desire always to be with Him. God made us in His image, to be like Him, but we have to work at being in His likeness. Adam did not develop fully into the likeness of God.
Adam was deceived by Satan to believe that joy could come from the desire of sensual things, of material things. Thus the distortion of desire began. Some theologians believed that there are two separate desires but most believe that there is only one desire, that which God implanted in us. The desire to be with Him. All other desires are distortions, sensual in nature. St. Maximus the Confessor states in Questions to Thalassius Prologue, “The more that man went after sensible things through his senses alone, the more the ignorance of God overcame him; the more he was enslaved by the ignorance of God, the more he gave himself over to the delight in material things known empirically; the more he was imbued with pleasure, the more he aroused the self-love which was the consequence of it; the more he cultivated self-love, the more he invented various means for obtaining pleasure, the fruit and goal of self-love.”
What St. Maximus is telling us is that as we move further from God, ignorance of God, the more we desire sensual things to find joy! The joy we find in the material world is ephemeral, so we continue to seek other joy, other desire, to fill the void left by the ignorance of God.
Our desire must be to be in communion with God at all times! Material pursuits must not be our primary goal. Use the gifts that God has given you to help others. God has gifted each of us in many ways, to use to provide us with a complete life and to help those that are not so gifted. When was the last time that you felt real joy, a joy that lasted? Was it when you offered you time, your talents or your treasure to help somebody less fortunate?
Why continue down the road that provides you joy from material things; joy that is ephemeral? God wants us to be like Him in His image and LIKENESS. We have to work at the likeness. We are to be like HIM, loving, kind, generous, compassionate, and thoughtful. Can you honestly say that “I am like Christ?” We can only say that if we ARE like Christ! He wants us to desire to be with God, receive our joy from being with God and for experiencing eternity with God. Being a good Steward of your time, talents and treasures will lead you back to the path of desiring God more than anything else in this world!
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
Mark Your Calendar Now for the 2nd annual Stewardship Retreat will be held September 22-24, 2017.
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