EZ Pass to Eternal Life?

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
I've had this "doubt" for quite sometime, and I've talked to my FOC and parents, but they don't seem to understand my question lol. I'm not getting the answer I'm looking for, maybe because of my delivery? So, I'll try on a forum :)

Our Lord says "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,' says the Lord of Hosts. 'If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10).

and He says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:10)

and He says, " But as for you my beloved Karas, every human that knows your life story and remembers your name by heart, my peace will be with him. I will count him with the martyrs and the saints. And every human that presents wine, orban (offerings), incense, oil, or candles in your memory, I will reward him two folds in the kingdom of heaven. Any one who feeds the hungry or gives drink to those that thirst or clothes the naked or welcomes a stranger in your name’s sake, I will reward him double in my kingdom. And who writes your holy story, I will write his name in the Book of life. And anyone who shows mercy in your memory day, I will give him that that eyes have never seen and ears have never heard and heart have never felt.”
He says the same with other saints too.

So my question is, what if we JUST give tithes and we don't follow any of the other commandments? God promised that we'll go to Heaven. What if we're persecuted by Muslims everyday, but don't follow any of the commandments? What if we remember Anba Karas and ask for his prayers, and not follow the commandments?

I just find it hard to understand how God can promise eternal life just for giving tithes or just for showing mercy on a saint's memorial day. Eternal life, I thought, was a life-long strive. It's supposed to be hard work. It's supposed to be a place for saints, for people who dedicate their lives for Christ. For people who defeated the devil. For people who were strong in faith. For people who struggled day and night to abstain from sin. Heaven is not a place for sinners, so how can a simple act of charity give someone that great reward? "Anyone who writes your story, I will write his name in the Book of life"... that's it? I just write Anba Karas' story, and that's it? It doesn't make sense.

God is a merciful and just God. What confuses me is why He "promised" eternal life, and not just "it will help you on judgement day. You get bonus gold stars"

Usually when someone promises me something, they gain 100% of my trust, even if I was skeptical before. I do trust God, but I just find it hard to believe that nothing else matters if we JUST give tithes or JUST remember a saint. There is a misunderstanding on my part.


  • There are no gold stars. This is not how salvation works. We cannot earn salvation.

    We must strive to be filled with the Holy Spirit who is our life. A person who does all manner of things without the Holy Spirit is not doing anything in the name of the Lord and so it has little value. All that matters is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and all that we do must be directed towards acquiring the Holy Spirit and not grieving Him so that he leaves us.

    Giving a 10th of what we earn is not a tithe if we are not offering it to the Lord. If it is not given freely to the Lord as the outworking of our love for Him, and with the generosity which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives then we are only paying a tax, we are just doing something that we think we have to so that we avoid punishment or gain a reward. The one who is filled with the Holy Spirit gives their whole life without thinking either o fpunishment or reward. To the one who has little faith He invites us to bring in the gift of our hearts and see whar he will do for us. But no-one should imagine that this must be a material reward. The widow who gave all that she had at the Temple did not find herself materially rich. She went home a little poorer than she left. But she was known by God who had seen the courageous generosity of her life, and she has been set forth into eternity as a witness and model for us all.

    The one who is persecuted without having the Holy Spirit is not persecuted for righteousness sake. He may be persecuted out of racist grounds, or for political ends, or for all manner of reasons. He may even have brought persecution upon himself. The one who is persecuted for righteousness sake is filled with the Holy Spirit and he responds to persecution out of the fulness of the divine presence in his heart. This does not save him from pain and hardship, even martyrdom. But the Holy Spirit transforms the outward circumstances so that with St Stephen the Proto-Martyr, the one who is persecuted for righteousness sake sees the heavens opened. But not all violence and opposition is of this nature.

    And do you know Karas? Or do you know about him? To know a life is to share it and live it and be inspired by it. How is it possible for any of us to offer anything in the name of a person who is not as close to us as a father or brother? We are committing fraud if we offer something in the name of a person we do not really know at all. If we say that we know the life of Karas or any saint then we must live as they did. How can we welcome a stranger in the name of Christ if we do not know Christ ourselves? How can we write the story of a saint if we do not live it? We are writing a lie and acting as though our faith was a matter of magic.

    The Christian Faith has an integrity based upon the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Without the Holy Spirit we are not Christian. It was the Holy Spirit who was the true breath of life which animated Adam and Eve and which withdrew from them when they sinned. The whole story of salvation is concerned with the restoration of this breath of life within us.

    If we truly are living in the Holy Spirit then we will tithe in a spiritual manner, but more than that we will give all our life joyfully to God. Nor will we neglect any other things. We will rejoice when persecuted. We will honour the saints by seeking to live according to their own examples of life lived in the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. All of this is an integrity, a whole. A passage from the Scriptures may speak of one aspect of the Christian life, but it is clear from the words of our Lord that no other aspect is to be neglected.

    If we think that we can JUST give tithes then we are in fact giving nothing to God. And this shows that we should not and must not read the Scriptures finding texts here and there, nor should we read the Scriptures apart from the Church.

    The Lord does not promise that someone giving tithes will receive eternal life. Or rather giving a tithe is not a matter of paying a tax, it is a token of the whole heart which is living out the whole Gospel. If we think that tithing is a form of taxation then we are not tithing at all. If we think that doing works is a way of earning salvation then we are not being saved at all. If we think that a knowledge of the saints lives will save us then we have not understood their lives at all.

    To experience the Christian life as an integrity requires us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Seeking the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, preparing our hearts to be a fit temple of the Holy Spirit, participating in the sacraments to humbly receive the Holy Spirit, this is the work of our lives, and all these other instances fit in naturally when the Holy Spirit is present, and become obstacles when He is not. The little we have, offered to God from a Spirit filled heart, is worth everything. The riches of the world, offered by an empty heart, is worth nothing. Our relation to the Holy Spirit determines the value of everything we do.
  • Oh.

    I feel pretty foolish for thinking the way I did. Thank you Father :)

  • Blessed is your youth so that you can learn these lessons while you are young and make them the foundation of your whole life.

    Seek the Holy Spirit, welcome Him into your heart and do nothing that will grieve Him.
  • Not that I can add anything to the words of Fr. Peter, but the first thing that popped into my head when I read your question was our Lord's admonition in the gospels of Matthew and Luke that "these you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." It's one of the hardest commands to follow, but it definitely fits here (and everywhere).
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