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Love for God and of for one’s Neighbor

The life of the heart is love, and its death is anger and animosity. God keeps us on earth so that our hearts may be permeated with love: this is the purpose of our temporal life in this world.

Our love towards God emerges and acts in us when we begin to love our neighbor as we do ourselves: when for him — this image of God — we do not spare ourselves or anything material, when we utilize everything we can in our attempts to save him; when for the sake of pleasing God, we deny satisfaction to our stomach, this corporeal perception, when we conquer our carnal reason with God’s reason. The Holy Scripture teaches: "For anyone who has not loved his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen" and "those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (1 John 4:20; Gal. 5:24).

Remember that the Lord is in every Christian. When your neighbor comes to you, have the utmost respect for him as God is in him. Often, God expresses His will through people: "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13). Just as you would not spare anything for God, do not spare anything for your brother. Be sincere, kind and joyful toward everyone. Remember, that sometimes God disposes the hearts of the unbelievers towards us, as it happened in Egypt when through God’s intervention, Joseph received a favorable disposition from his dungeon-keeper (Gen. 39:21).

Remember that to God, a human is a great and precious being. But after its fall, this great creation became weak, subordinate to many weaknesses. In loving and respecting him as the bearer of the Creator’s image, bear also his weaknesses — diverse passions and unseemly acts — as those of a sick person. It is said: "We who are strong enough to bear with the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves"… "Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ" (Romans 15:1, Gal 6:2).

Love every person, regardless of his sinful state. Sin is sin, but the basis of a human being is one and only — the image of God. Sometimes, the weaknesses of people are apparent when, for example, they are malicious, proud, envious, stingy, greedy. But remember, that you yourself are not without evil, and perhaps, there may be more of it in you than in others. In any case, with regard to sin, all people are alike; "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23); we all are guilty before God and we are all in need of His mercy. That is why we have to tolerate and mutually forgive one another, so that our Heavenly Father may forgive us our transgressions (Mat. 6:14). Look how much God loves us, how much He has done and continues to do for us, how He punishes us lightly yet pardons us so abundantly and benevolently!

If you want to reform someone from his deficiencies, do not think of improving him with your own abilities only, as we do more harm than good, for example, through our pride and irritability. But "cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you" (Psalms 54:23) and pray to Him with all your heart, so that He Himself may enlighten the mind and heart of the individual. If He sees that your prayer is penetrated with love, then it would undoubtedly be answered, and you would quickly see the change in that person that you are praying for. It is the work of "the right hand of the Most High" (Psalms 77:10).

As a true Christian that is trying to accumulate as many benevolent deeds and treasures of love as possible, rejoice at every opportunity to show kindness to your neighbor. Do not look for kindness and love, and regard yourself as being unworthy of them. Above all else, rejoice when an opportunity arises for you to help someone. Express your love plainly, without any backward thought or any thoughts of personal gain and remember — God is love. Simple creature, remember that He sees all your thoughts and the behavior of your heart.

Be bold and decisive in every act of goodness, in words of endearment and in your participation — especially in matters of compassion and help. Anticipate the feelings of despondency and feebleness whenever you consider performing a good deed. Say, "Even though I am a foremost sinner, ‘I can do everything through Him who gives me strength… Everything is possible for him who believes’" (Phil. 4:13, Mark 9:23).

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