Much Increase Comes By The Strength Of An Ox
Keraza Magazine issue 11-12 March 14, 2014
The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the saints is astounding. It is most amazing in its immeasurable variety and abundance. One martyr endures torture for several years; a solitary does not see the face of a man; a saint is granted sleeplessness by the Holy Spirit to remain in the unceasing prayer; one fasts for several days without any food; another remains fifteen years in a pit praising God; another sells himself as a slave to give the price to the poor... We would need much time to mention the wonders and grandeurs of the work of God in His saints. People too often ask, "How did all those people reach these high levels of being filled abundantly by the Holy Spirit?"
The simple standard answer, which anesthetizes the conscience of many–keeping them captive in the snare of heedlessness and neglect–is: "These amazing gifts are specific to the saints. Where are we the weak sinners from these high standards?"
One is appalled at the deceptions of the evil one! Does God have partiality? Was the baptism of the saints different from your baptism, such that a different Holy Spirit was poured upon you than the one poured upon them? Was God, who said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7), honest towards the saints, and dishonest towards you?
Banish the thought that God, the Divine, the ever-loving, ever-just, ever-compassionate, would be unjust! The Holy Spirit is ever ready to perform wonders in each person, but not without your will. God, who said, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it" (Psalm 81:10), cannot fill you with the abundance of His Holy Spirit, as long as the "spirit of sufficiency" has shut your mouth.
Listen to what the Holy Bible says: "To a large tribe you shall give a larger inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a smaller inheritance" (Numbers 26:54); this was God’s command to Moses. Solomon the Sage says, "Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox" (Proverb 14:4). "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing" (Psalm 145:16).
Let us now stand up to our conscience asking: What is my desire? According to my gauge, I will take from God. Will I be satisfied with the pods for pigs, or will I ask for the bread of princes, the sons of the King? Have I not sat long enough on this mountain of heedlessness and neglect, encircling this mount of sufficiency (Deuteronomy 1:6; 2:3)? Behold, we are in the fasting season; let us turn a deaf ear to the deceptive voice of the enemy who tries to convince us that it is sufficient to fast part of the Fast, or sufficient that we observe the entire fast, no need to abstain from food, sufficient to attend one liturgy a week, sufficient to read one chapter of the Holy Bible, sufficient...sufficient...sufficient!
If you are defeated before the "sufficiency war," know that God will answer you, "Then, it is sufficient for you to be counted among the slaves, not the children." But, if you rise up now, asking a sign, asking it in the depth, or in the height (Isaiah 7:11), you will hear His voice, "And still there is room" (Luke 14:22).
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States