27. We cannot serve two masters – let us choose God

Fr Tikhon recounted how he thought of making some money at one time with a friend, a well known Orthodox writer. Both of them wanted to reprint the Bible, illegal at that time during Soviet times.

Although the distribution of the Holy Bible is necessary and important, they did it for money, and so Fr Tikhon knew that what they did was not out of faith, but just business.

They managed to find an illustrated Bible, through Metropolitan Pitirim, who loaned the two young men his own home Bible, and asked that they took care of it. Fr Tikhon swore to the Metropolitan that he would make a copy and return it in a week.

However, his writer friend, sold off the Bible on the black market the very day they got it, for a small sum of money to get totally drunk.

Fr Tikhon was furious and lost. He took a train ride back to Pechory to see Fr John for counsel, but the elder was in retreat. Fr Tikhon had no choice but to turn to Fr Raphael instead. Fr Raphael calmly reminded Fr Tikhon to pray the prayer for lost things. In the midst of despair, Fr Tikhon had completely forgotten of this prayer. Fr Tikhon then realized that in his greed for the worldly things, he had then turned to every person other than God Himself. So Fr Tikhon returned to prayer.

The following morning on the deadline to return the Bible to the Metropolitan, Fr Tikhon went to the Patriarchal publishing department. At the entrance was a friend, Victor, with the Bible wrapped in satin! Fr Tikhon did not ask how his friend Victor managed to retrieve the Bible, but from observation, he knew that his friend must have traversed among some unsavory characters risking his self to retrieve the Bible.

From that time on, Fr Tikhon constantly reminded himself that one cannot serve two masters, God and mammon (St Matthew 6:24, St Luke 16:13).

Many false prophets today are proclaiming prosperity as the yardstick of being Christian. They boast of shiny gold, large residences, and luxuries, as visible signs of being blessed.

Do not be deceived, beloved!

We of Orthodoxy know that the Truth is obvious – we can only serve God, and work towards our salvation as our only and primary goal in life (St Matthew 6:33). There can be no place for placing mammon in the same equation. Yes, we do need to eat and be clothed and have shelter, and for the necessities we pray, and not allow our own greed to consume us to forget God altogether. We have one master – God.

Christ our Lord has shown us the only way to reconcile with God. And many followed. Our Theotokos, the Holy Apostles, all the holy fathers among the saints of antiquity to our times, have all followed the Truth and the Path towards God, with no shortcuts or diversions. We who are humble servants and pilgrims living under the love and shelter of God, must not forget what our only and primary goal is – to walk behind these footsteps of all these holy ones who laid their lives down to light candles along our footpaths back to God.

Whenever temptation presents itself, or when we have fallen, pray this:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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