No one can force you to listen to Christian teaching, says St. Ephrem the Syrian. If you really want to listen, though, you need to live a life worthy of your adoption as a child of God.
The doctrine is not of compulsion; the word of life is of free will. If you are willing to hear the doctrine, cleanse the field of your will, so that the good seed will not fall among the thorns of vain speculations. If you wish to heed the word of life, cut yourself off from evil things; the hearing of the word does no good to someone busy with sins. If you wish to be good, do not love dissolute customs. First of all, trust in God, and then listen to his law.
You cannot hear his words while you do not know yourself; and if you keep his judgments while your understanding is aloof from him, who will give you your reward? Who will keep for you your recompense?
You were baptized in his name; confess his name! Father and Son and Holy Spirit, these three will be a wall to you, against divisions and quarrels. Do not doubt the truth, or you might perish through the truth. You were baptized from the water; you have put on Christ in his naming; the seal of the Lord is on your person and his stamp on your forehead. See that you do not become another’s, for you have no other Lord. He who formed us in his mercy is one; he who redeemed us on his cross is one. He guides our life; he has power over our weakness; he brings about our resurrection. He rewards us according to our works. Blessed is he that confesses him, and hears and keeps his commandments!
You yourself are a child of God who is high over all. See that by your works you do not displease the Father who is good and gracious.
–St. Ephrem the Syrian, Homily on Admonition and Repentance, 1-2
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
When I look back over what I’ve done today, what do I see that might have been displeasing to my Father?
Lord, give me the strength to live a life that pleases you, and prepare me for eternal redemption.
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