The Lord resists the proud; but he gives grace to the humble.
Monday in the Second Week - At Vespers, Prov 3:34 – 4:26
With grace, everything is easy. The man fully in the Spirit, fully in the grace of God, does not consider the yoke of righteousness to be burdensome, but easily, and freely, chooses the way of life. One can be sure that if it seems hard to do the “right thing”, that is, there is a war within ourselves regarding our choice, it is because of our pride.
If we hear a harsh word and want to return it in kind, but resist, we have gained a crown, but our task was difficult because of our pride. If we pray when we do not feel like praying, and perhaps, as we struggle along, the prayer becomes lighter and easier, we can be sure that we are being visited by God's grace, but we must remember that it was difficult in the beginning because of our pride.
Everything that is hard in the way of life, ie., the following of the commandments, is hard because of our pride.
We must go through life with sadness, and grief. Our Lord lived this way, it is the way of the cross, and we must follow Him. Our Lord felt the difficulties of life, since He is fully human, and many things are hard for the human race. He never, however, felt a war within himself as to which way to choose. He had the grace of God fully within Him, because He fully humbled Himself.
The only resistance a humble man experiences is from without. From within, he is given grace so that his choosing is free and easy for him. This is the spiritual meaning of our Lord's promise, given only to the humble: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
There is a story from the desert fathers, where two monks were walking down a road. They met a woman of ill repute walking towards them. The younger monk covered his face in his cowl, while his spiritual father smiled, and greeted the woman as she passed. The younger monk was troubled about this, and the elder, knowing this asked him: “What is troubling you my son?” The younger monk answered: “Father, surely you know what sort of woman just passed by”. The pure elder answered: “My son, I cannot tell you whether is was a man or woman who just passed by.”
This story shows us the beginning and the end of godly struggle. The younger monk was correct to cover his face, so as not to invite the demon of lust to entice him, since this demon is so active with our sight. In time, with great effort, the younger would reach the stature of the elder, who was able without effort, freely, to encounter the woman, and have no pangs of lust trouble his soul. The Lord resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.