Sermon by orthodox priest on God's will

Distinguishing God's will from ours

November 17, 2020

priest sergius nezhbort

In his epistle to the Romans (Romans 7:14 - 8:2), Apostle Paul gives an apt description of the inner struggle that many of us will have experienced: "for what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do I do". These words are very true, but in reality, our dilemma lies even deeper: what if what I hate to do is good, and what I want to do is wrong but so extremely tempting, that I cannot resist going, watching, or doing something inappropriate? When in doubt about the necessity or righteousness of some particular course of action, my criterion would be this: if this is something that is going to be hard and demanding, it is likely to be a very good thing. The greater your reluctance to act, the better action is likely to be. Conversely, if you are feeling the urge to act upon your intention this very moment, it might be best to wait and give yourself the time to cool off - it might not be your best choice.

As we are faced with this division, we often find ourselves placed between the rock and the hard place. We cannot live the lives of other people, we must be mindful of our attitudes and inclinations, which also have a strong influence on our choices. However, we also need the ability to distinguish between what we desire and what God wants me to do at a given moment. Sometimes, we might be fortunate to find that what my own will coincides with the will of God, but in most cases, this is not the case, and God wants me to do something that I find extremely hard to do at the present moment. Still, I should make an effort and follow God's will despite all difficulties. So let us work hard to live up to the Lord's expectations

Recently, I came across a homily by Antonius of Surozh which he said on the day of all Russian saints back in 1967. He shared some remarkable observations. He mentioned several characteristics that made Russian saints distinct. One of them is remarkable patience. Although patience is a universal quality of all saints, it is manifested uniquely in the Russian saints, as their ability to withstand the sorrows, adversity, and chaos that was so much a part of their lives and their unfailing confidence in God's ultimate victory. As Saint Antonius has said, this kind of patience is, regrettably, lacking in so many of us. So let us put ourselves to work to close this gap. This is a challenge that is both desirable and realistic. If we can challenge ourselves to remain patient in the face of our sorrows. In this way, we might become more like the Russian saints, at least in a small part.

May God help us.

Priest Sergius Nezhbort

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