On Pleasing God

by Scott D. Hendricks

You ask, “Shouldn’t I be doing something?” Of course that is necessary. Do whatever falls to your hands, in your circle and in your situation–and believe that this is and will be your true work; nothing more from you is required. It is a great error to think that you must undertake important and great labors, whether for heaven, or, as the progressives think, in order to make one’s contribution to humanity. That is not necessary at all. It is necessary only to do everything in accordance with the Lord’s commandments. Just what exactly is to be done? Nothing in particular, just that which presents itself to each one according to the circumstances of his life, and which is demanded by the individual events with which each of us meets. That is all. God arranges the lot of each person, and the entire course of life of each one is also His all-good industry, as is each moment and each meeting. Let us take an example: A poor man comes to us; God has brought him. What are you supposed to do? Help him. God, Who has brought this poor man to you, with the desire, of course, that you act toward this poor man in a manner pleasing to Him, looks at you, to see how you will in fact act. He will be pleased if you help. Will you help? You will have done what is pleasing to God, and will have made a big step towards the final goal: reward in Heaven. If you generalize this instance, you will come to the conclusion that in all instances, and during each meeting, it is necessary to do what God wants us to do. As to what He wants, we certainly know that from the commandments He has given us. Is someone seeking help? Help him. Has someone offended you? Forgive him. Have you offended somebody? Rush to ask forgiveness and make peace. Did somebody praise you? Don’t be proud. Did somebody scold you? Do not be angry. Is it time to pray? Pray. Is it time to work? Work. Etc., etc., etc. If, after all of this has been explained, you set about to act in this way in every instance, so that your works will be pleasing to God, having carried them out according to the commandments without any deviation, then all the problems of your life will be solved completely and satisfactorily. The purpose is the blessed life beyond the grave; the means are the works according to the commandments, the execution of which is required by each instance of life.

~ St. Theophan the Recluse

St. Theophan the Recluse, The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It, trans. Alexandra Dockham (St. Paisius Abbey: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2000), 88-89.