Saint Isaac the Syrian on Love for One’s Neighbour

St. Isaac the Syrian

St. Isaac the Syrian

Do not demand love from your neighbor, because you will suffer if you don’t receive it; but better still, you indicate your love toward your neighbor and you will settle down. In this way, you will lead your neighbor toward love.

Don’t exchange your love toward your neighbor for some type of object, because in having love toward your neighbor, you acquire within yourself Him, Who is most precious in the whole world. Forsake the petty so as to acquire the great; spurn the excessive and everything meaningless so as to acquire the valuable.

Shelter the sinner if it brings you no harm. Through this you will encourage him toward repentance and reform — and attract the Lord’s mercy to yourself. With a kind word and all possible means, fortify the infirm and the sorrowful and that Right Arm that controls everything, will also support you. With prayers and sorrow of your heart, share your lot with the aggrieved and the source of God’s mercy will open to your entreaties.

When giving, give magnanimously with a look of kindness on your face, and give more than what is asked of you.

Do not distinguish the worthy from the unworthy. Let everyone be equal to you for good deeds, so that you may be able to also attract the unworthy toward goodness, because through outside acts, the soul quickly learns to be reverent before God.

Do not annoy or hate anyone – neither for faith, nor for his evil deeds… If you want to convert someone to truth, then grieve over him, with tears and love say a word or two to him, but do not burst out in anger, and may he not see any sign of hatred on your part, because love is not able to hate, or become irritated, or reproach anyone with passion…

A merciful heart — is a heart afire for all creation: for people, bird, animals, (even) for demons and all of God’s creations. At the recollection of them or at looking at them, the eyes of the person shed tears. From a great compassion, his heart is moved and he is unable to hear or witness any type of harm or even minor sorrow that the creatures endure. That is why he is continually praying for the irrational animal, for the enemies of the truth and those that have brought him harm, so that they would be saved and granted mercy. And he prays for the dumb animal with such great sorrow, which his heart evokes, that it is without bounds and akin in all respect to God’s.

He who shows kindness toward the poor has God as his guardian, and he who becomes poor for the sake of God will acquire abundant treasures. God is pleased when He sees people showing concern for others for His sake. When someone asks you for something, don’t think: “Just in case I might need it, I shall leave it for myself, and God — through other people — will give that person what he requires.” These types of thoughts are peculiar to people that are iniquitous and do not know God. A just and generous person would not compromise the honor of helping and relinquish it to another person, and he would never pass up an opportunity to help. Every beggar and every needy person receives the necessary essentials, because God doesn’t neglect anyone. But you, having sent away the destitute with nothing, spurned the honor offered to you by God and thereby, distanced yourself from His grace.

Through God’s providence, he who respects every person for God’s sake, privately acquires help from every human being.

* Orthodox Christian Booklets

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