St. Theophan the Recluse: “Pretending, Not Being”
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Monday, August 15 (2), 2022

1Cor. 15:12-19; Mt. 21:18-22

The Lord condemned the fig tree for having a deceitful appearance: covered with leaves, it looked as if it bore rich fruit, while in fact there were none [Mt. 21:19]

As applied to the Christian life, leaves mean outward piety, outward behavior, while fruit mean the inward contents of the soul.  Normally, according to the law, externals come after the internal;  but, due to God’s condescension to our weakness, as an exemption we get from Him, there is a permission to develop both faculties together.

If, however, our outward features are substantial, while the inward contents is missing altogether, then our whole life is a life of deception, expressed by a principle: “Pretending, not being”.  At the onset, perhaps, it is not yet openly present in one’s mind; it emerges gradually, takes root in the soul and eventually becomes the  rule of life.  If you put too much emphasis on the externals, then your attention to your heart is blocked, your spiritual sense gets numbed, and you become lukewarm all over.  Spiritual life dies on this stage; what remains is “a form of godliness without the power thereof” [2Tim. 3:5].  Outward behavior is just fine, but the soul is messed up inside.  From that follows total fruitlessness: even if anything good is done, it is to no avail whatsoever.