Good Works Only Matter when They Are Complete

From the parable about Eulogius the Monk and a poor paralytic

Brethren! The bible does not promise salvation to those who endure some things but not others. It says, “but the one who stands firm to the end, he shall be saved.” (Matthew 10, 22). Now, that is exactly what we may lack – standing firm to the end. How many times do we embark on some good work with zeal and inspiration, only to cool off to it more and more after some time? We might even abandon our good work when it is almost complete and only a few finishing touches are left. Yet we do not complete our work, like the foolish man who built his house on sand which fell with a great crash under the rain and the winds (Matthew. 7, 26–27).

No, this is not the way to do good things. When you embark on some good project, persist until you finish and do not yield to temptations; or else the devil will take your crown and steal your reward.

A monk named Eulogius met a poor paralytic in the street, had pity for him and silently vowed to God, “Lord, for Your sake, I will take this paralytic to my house and will care for him as long as he lives, to be saved through him. Please give me the patience to be his servant.” He then approached the paralytic and offered him to live in his house. The paralytic agreed.

Fifteen years passed. All this time Eulogius served him as if he was his father. He cared for him, washed and fed him, and carried him around in his arms. The devil was jealous of Eulogius’ patience. Eager to rob him of his worthy reward, he put wrath and anger with Eulogius in the heart of the paralytic. Gentle at other times, the paralytic began to revile and blaspheme against Eulogius, notwithstanding his entreaties and admonitions. He brought Eulogius to despair. “What should I do? The paralytic brings me to despair. Should I abandon him? I would, but I am afraid to bring my vow to God,” he complained to the other monks. “But what if I do not leave him? He gives me no peace day or night.” The monks advised him to seek the advice of Antonius the Great, and Eulogius listened. First, Antonius admonished Eulogius and the paralytic to live in peace. Then he said to both, “Children. Your temptations come from the devil. You are both close to dying and are worthy of your crown from God. Now do not let anything confound you. Otherwise, the Angel might catch you in your wrath against one another and deprive you of your reward.” Convinced by Saint Antonius, Eulogius and the paralytic lived in peace. Their life together only lasted for another fourteen days, when Eulogius departed. Three days later, the paralytic did likewise.

So may you all have patience and endurance, brethren! Start a good work, and endure to the end to complete it; never allow yourselves to slacken off. Otherwise, your reward will be wasted. For the Lord Himself has said, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9, 62). Amen.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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