By:  The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan

        If you’re a Christian and you lose everything you own, everyone you love, and even lose your own physical life; you’ve actually lost nothing! “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break in nor steal.”  Matthew 6:28 The early Christian Saints and Martyrs knew this fact very well, because many of them actually gave up their physical life for their faith in Jesus Christ.  They knew that the most a human could do to them is end their physical life.  They knew that their spirit belongs to God and no human can possibly destroy it.  They also embraced what was waiting for them when their physical life ended.  In other words, they lost nothing, but gained everything!  It was a choice on their part to not succumb to pressure and renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.  Their choice won them a Martyr’s Crown and an eternal home in Heaven. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  Mark 8:35-36

        God’s greatest gift to us is freedom of choice.  The greatest glory we can give to God is to use our freedom of choice to choose Him.  Our eternal future is affected by our choices! “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31Our freedom of choice gives us two basic options: We can chose to follow light (God), or, we can choose to follow darkness.  When we choose to follow light, we comply with the Scripture passage cited above, our actions glorify God.

        Clearly, the choices we make either enlighten or darken our spirits.  We have the freedom to choose to glorify God or not through our actions and interactions with our fellow human beings.  All creation was created and intended for good purposes and for the glory of God.  Misuse of anything perverts its original good intention and casts darkness upon the one that misused it.  “… As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15

        The Prophet Isaiah said of Jesus Christ, “The people that sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region of the shadow of death light has sprung up.”  Matthew 4:16 “You have heard that it has been said, you should love your neighbor and hate your enemies.  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.”  Matthew 5:43-44

        How many times have you heard the phrase, “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.”?  This statement is only half correct!  Indeed we are to love the sinner because we are asked by Jesus Christ in the Scriptures to love everyone, even our enemies.  We are not to hate anyone or anything. Hate is a negative emotion that brings darkness to those who employ it.  An enlightened version of this statement would be:  “Love and enlighten the sinner and forgive the sin.” 

        If you go to a calculator and enter 1 and press the minus key, then enter 1 again and press the minus key again what is the total of the two numbers?  You get a minus 2, or you double the negative number.  When you hate evil, you double the effect of evil.  If you strike out against darkness in hate, you, yourself enter the darkness!  When you shine the light of God and of love upon darkness you dispel and cancel out the darkness.  Just as you enter a minus 1 and plus 1, your answer is Zero. Cancel out the effect of darkness by making wise choices based on the enlightened love of God.

        “But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and foul talk.  Lie not to another, seeing that you have put off the old self and its deeds.”  Colossians 3:8-9 "For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and hid that shall not be known.”  Luke 12:2

        As I have mentioned earlier, we have the choice to choose darkness or light.  When we choose to lie we choose darkness.  According to the Scripture passage of St. Luke cited above, the darkness of our dishonesty always surface when the light of truth is focused upon it.  

        In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 21, Jesus explains in a parable about a father that had two sons.  He asked his first son to go to his vineyard and work.  The first son said no, but later repented and went to work in the vineyard.  The second son told his father that he would go to the vineyard and work, but he did not.

        The first son was honest, he did not tell his father what he wanted to hear, he repented and ended up doing the will of his father.  The second son chose to lie to his father by telling him what he wanted to hear, but had no intentions of doing his father’s will.  Eventually the second son would incur anger from his father because it would be revealed that he did not do as he promised.   “For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed.”

        Dishonesty leads to darkness, the choice of truth is the way of enlightenment!

        From the dawn of mankind, as reason-endowed beings, we have been presented with choices.  We learn from our choices, or the consequence of our choices.  Many times we think that the little mundane, everyday choices we make do not have an affect on us; however, nothing could be further from the truth. 

        “For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and what measure you give out, it shall be given to you in return.”  Matthew 7:2 

        Through your choices, if you short-change others through judgment, dishonesty, greed, or hatred, you are only short changing yourself, because you will receive in return what you have given.

        God has given us the gift of free choice.  We are the architects of our own destiny.  We can build toward the light, or toward the darkness.

        We build toward the light when we put the needs of others ahead of our own.  We build toward the light when we choose, love, forgiveness, honesty, and fairness.  By building on the side of light we lay up treasures in Heaven and what we do we do to the glory of God.  By building toward the light we give God the greatest glory by using our freedom of choice to choose Him through the path He has laid out for us through His Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.