“You who have become a stranger to the world ought to possess a faith, an outlook, and a manner of life which has about it something unusual, something different from that of all worldly people”

Wishing to lead his disciples to perfect faith, the Lord said in the Gospel: “Whoever is unbelieving in a small matter will be unbelieving also when it comes to something important; and whoever believes in a small matter will believe also when it comes to something important.” What are the small matters, and what the important ones?

The small matters are things offered by this world, which the Lord has promised to provide for those who believe in him—things such as food, clothing, and whatever else is necessary for the body’s well-being, health, and the like. About these he commanded us not to have the slightest anxiety but confidently to trust him, for he will supply all the needs of those who make him their refuge.

On the other hand, the important matters are the gifts pertaining to the eternal and incorruptible world, which he has promised to provide for those who believe in him, and who are ceaselessly concerned about these things and ask him for them as he commanded.

The Lord said: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be yours as well.” Thus each person is to be tested by these trivial and transitory things to see whether he or she believes that God will supply them. We are to have no anxiety about such things, but are to be concerned solely with the eternal blessings to come.

It will then be obvious that one believes in the incorruptible things and really does seek the eternal blessings, if one preserves a strong faith concerning the things we have spoken of.

All who submit to the word of truth should test and examine themselves, or else be tested and examined by spiritual counselors, as to the way they live out their belief and surrender themselves to God. Are they really living by God’s word, or only by an imaginary belief based on a false notion of righteousness and faith?

It is regarding his faith in small matters, that is to say, in temporal matters, that each person is examined and tested. Hear how this is done.

Do you say you believe that you have been deemed worthy of the kingdom of heaven, that you have been born from above as a child of God, that you are a co-heir with Christ, and that you will reign with him for ever, rejoicing like God in light brilliant beyond description throughout the untold ages of eternity?

No doubt you will answer, “Yes, that is the very reason why I left the world and gave myself to the Lord.”

Examine yourself, then, to see whether worldly cares may still have a hold on you; whether you are very preoccupied with feeding and clothing your body, and with your other pursuits and your recreation, as though your own power kept you alive, and you were obliged to make provision for yourself, when you have been commanded to have no anxiety whatever concerning yourself.

If you believe that you will receive everlasting, eternal, abiding, and bounteous blessings, how much more should you not believe that God will provide you with these transitory, earthly benefits, which he has given even to impious people and to beasts and birds?

You who have become a stranger to the world ought to possess a faith, an outlook, and a manner of life which has about it something unusual, something different from that of all worldly people.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

St Macarius of Egypt

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6 Responses to “You who have become a stranger to the world ought to possess a faith, an outlook, and a manner of life which has about it something unusual, something different from that of all worldly people”

  1. Tim McGee says:

    Great post. To test ourselves if we are living our belief or just hoping to do so — an important part of our growth in faith. And Fr. Aidan, thank you also for posting your funeral homily. I know you turned off comments for that post. Peace be with you. And Happy Father’s Day.

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  2. dbdweeb says:

    Regarding, “the Lord said in the Gospel: ‘Whoever is unbelieving in a small matter…'” I cannot find the Gospel passage claimed in this post. Would someone please point me to it? Thanks.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Luke 16:10?

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      • dbdweeb says:

        Thanks for the reply, Aidan.

        For me the context of Luke 16 is about faithful stewardship of tangible resources, not so much about belief. Of course I realize that at some point everything comes down to belief, and I am not so much a literalist as to insist that the passage cannot be applied in this manner.

        Someone once told me he was under “great trial” because he’d had a flat tire that week. His mood was bitter, he thought he lacked something because the Lord had not protected him from such “tragedy.” To me he was much too religious and unable to cope with small matters of daily life.

        On the other hand, in my own experience, I’ve mentioned a small matter to the Lord where His response was spectacular, intentionally and overtly obvious… Only to receive a wall of silence on a larger matter. I have a recent experience with this, the lesson was this… The Lord affirms that He listens and hears all, but He leaves it to me to walk through the larger matter by faith in Him. His affirmation of hearing the smaller matter bolsters my faith on the larger matter.

        If we are completely honest, we are all unbelieving on the smaller matters because they just seem too trivial in the grand scheme of things. In matters like this, it is not my faithfulness that makes the difference, it’s the faithfulness of none other than the Lord Himself. To Him be all praise!

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        • dbdweeb says:

          For me it is tiresome when the “name it and claim it,” “blab it and grab it” health, wealth and prosperity “gospel” is applied to temporal matters is such a way that they become a point of “faith.” Jesus was thus tempted, “command that these stones be turned into bread.”

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      David, it may be that the translation I have copied is faulty. Another translation of Homily 38 renders the first sentence as: “THE Lord in the gospel, wishing to bring His own disciples to a perfect faith, said, He that is faithful in little, is faithful also in much; and he that is unfaithful in little, is unfaithful also in much. What is the little?”

      Thanks for your question about the text I posted.

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