Worth the Effort

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Mon, 08/30/2021 - 08:25

Sometimes we find ourselves asking why should even bother? There are so many who don’t really live as they should or pray as they should. It can be very tempting to throw up our arms and say, “Forget it! It isn’t worth it!” I understand the temptation, trust me, but I also know it is worth every moment we work to help each other live in Christ.

Brethren, my joy is the joy of you all. For I wrote you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. But if any one has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure - not to put it too severely - to you all. For such a one this punishment by the majority is enough; so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, for he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs. When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. – 2nd Corinthians 2.3-15

In today’s Epistle reading, Saint Paul reminds us not only of his love for us, but why he is so committed in helping us. “What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Saint Paul knew just how much Satan desires to destroy the Church and us. The efforts of Saint Paul to teach us to forgive no matter what others have done will help us defeat Satan.

It isn’t that forgiveness comes easily. It surely does not, but when we refuse to forgive, our hearts grow cold and bitter toward others. We begin to doubt whether we should continue in this path, merely because we carry an overwhelming weight on our shoulders, a weight that is totally unnecessary. We may not recognize it when it happens, but when Saint Paul is chastising us through his Epistles, he is showing us the way back to Christ. This is why he also reminded the Corinthians of his love for them. His correction came from love.

We often feel correction as pain. Ever since early childhood, we felt pain when our teachers marked our answers incorrect on a quiz. We felt pain when our parents sent us to our room, because of our poor decisions. Our teachers and parents were not correcting us to cause us pain but because they loved and cared for us. The Church does the same.

When our behavior does not line up with the life of the Church, it is out of love that the Church corrects us, through our spiritual fathers and clergy. We may not like what we hear, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph.” The Church is the Body of Christ. His saving grace is present in the Church. His love is present in the Church. Christ is on our side against Satan, and He has given us the Church to help us in the fight, because the prize is our eternal salvation with God. That’s what makes it worth the effort.

 

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