The Journey towards Love

The Elder Porphyrios treasured the following quote from the writings of St. Symeon the New Theologian. He had it printed and handed out to his visitors.

We should look upon all the faithful as one person and consider that Christ is in each one of them. We should have such love for them that we are ready to sacrifice our very lives for them. For it is incumbent upon us neither to say, nor think of any person as evil, but we must look upon everyone as good. If you see a brother afflicted with a passion, do not hate him. Hate the passion that makes war upon him. And if you see him being terrorized by the habits and desires of previous sins, have compassion on him. Maybe you too will be afflicted by temptation, since you are also made from matter that easily turns from good to evil. Love towards your brother prepares you to love God even more. The secret, therefore, of love towards God is love towards your brother. For if you don’t love your brother whom you see, how is it possible to love God whom you do not see?

For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God Whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.



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8 responses to “The Journey towards Love”

  1. morninggrace Avatar

    All day I’ve been struggling with temptation – then suddenly the light dawns on me – and I’m not struggling with temptation, but learning to love in a way I have not loved before.

    This is so apt right now. Thank you for posting. Thanks be to God for His all loving, gentle way.

  2. Pr. Lovett Avatar

    Lent is about love, ending with the Passion of our Lord. If you fast day and night but have not love, you are a clanging symbol. If you give great alms and attend all the services of the Church, but have not love, you gain nothing. Now we know one another in part, seeing dimly as through stained windows, but then we shall know one another fully even as we are fully know. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God. But the one that does not love does not know God for God is love. Beloved, let love one another.

    Great post, Fr. Stephen.

  3. Steve L Avatar
    Steve L

    Very encouraged.

  4. Dn Nicholas Avatar
    Dn Nicholas

    Thank you, Father. I think that this can also be applied to ourselves. How easy it can be to beat ourselves up over our bad days, when we’re overly irritable or otherwise fall short in a way that hurts others — but that just makes it worse. But St. Symeon’s perspective, applied to us, should remind us that we can’t fix the problem ourselves, but that we should merely run to God to heal us, and give the problem up to Him — and then things get better.

  5. Darlene Avatar
    Darlene

    If we practice what St. Symeon has said here we would have no difficulty in forgiving our brother/sister 70 x 7 – or in other words, over and over and over again.

  6. Jesse Avatar
    Jesse

    Something I often wonder when reading NT letters is when to consider “all” or “brothers” as all of mankind, or just fellow Christians. It seems that this quote from St. Symeon quite clearly means just other Christians (“all the faithful”), but shouldn’t the sentiments expressed be extended to all mankind?

  7. mike Avatar
    mike

    …Outstanding Post…..i wonder if unconditional love..which by the way..covers a multitude of sins..is perhaps the more intended gospel of Christ..in which case im a very poor example………….

  8. XC China Avatar

    Christ is in our midst!

    Jesse, I think the phrase “both and” is apt here.

    “For it is incumbent upon us neither to say, nor think of any person as evil, but we must look upon everyone as good.”

    There is the story of a monk who prayed, fasted and struggled more than all the rest. Seeing his own sinfulness he despaired for his salvation and all those around him. He wept bitter tears of repentance for himself and everyone about him. Until one God sent him a dream. In this dream he saw a great room without end filled with an almost infinite number of ladders rising to heaven. He saw that God had uniquely fashioned a ladder for each and every soul.

    Our love should be a light onto all of God,s creation so that not only ourselves but others can find the way, especially those that we would judge otherwise.

    Father, Thank You and please correct and clarify as needed

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