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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Shepherd of Hermas: Fifth Mandate

...Be patient and understanding...and you will overcome all evil deeds and will accomplish all righteousness. For if you are patient, the HOLY SPIRIT WHO lives in you will be pure, uncontaminated by some other evil spirit, living in a spacious room, HE will rejoice and be glad with the vessel in which HE lives, and will serve GOD with cheerfulness, for HE is at peace with HIMSELF. But if an angry temper approaches, immediately the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO is vey sensitive, is distressed because HE does not have a clean place, and HE seeks to leave the place. For HE is impeded by the evil spirit and does not have the room to serve the LORD the way HE wants to, because the angry temper [pollutes the heart in which HE dwells.] For the LORD lives in patience, but the devil lives in an angry temper. So if the SPIRIT is mingled with those types of spirits, it is unfortunate and evil for that person in whom they live. For if you take a little wormwood and pour it in a jar of honey, isn't all the honey spoiled? Such a large amount of honey spoiled by such a small amount of wormwood; it spoils the sweetness, and the owner no longer cares for it, because it has become bitter and lost its usefulness. But if the wormwood is not put into the honey, the honey turns out to be sweet and is useful to the owner. You see, then, patience is very sweet, even more so than honey, and is useful to the LORD, and HE lives in it. But an angry temper is bitter and useless. So if an angry temper is mixed with patience, the patience is polluted, and the person's intercession is no longer useful to GOD. ... (5:1)

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...Now hear...about how an angry temper works, how evil it is, and how it subverts GOD's servants by its working, and how it leads them astray from righteousness. But it does not lead astray those who are filled with faith, nor can it work on them, because the LORD's Power is with them. But it can lead astray those who are empty-headed and double-minded. For whenever it sees such people prospering, it insinuates itself into the person's heart, and for no reason at all the man or the woman is embittered over worldly concerns, either about food or something trivial, or some friend, or about giving or receiving, or some such foolish matters. For these things are all foolish and empty and senseless, and inexpedient for GOD's servants. But patience is great and strong, and possesses a mighty and vigorous power, and prospers in a spacious area; it is joyful, exultant, free from care, glorifying the LORD at all times, having no bitterness in itself, always remaining gentle and quiet. This patience, therefore, lives with those whose faith is perfect. But an angry temper is first of all foolish, fickle and senseless. Then from foolishness comes bitterness, and from bitterness wrath, and from wrath anger, and from anger vengefulness: then vengefulness, being composed of all these evil elements, becomes a great and incurable sin. For when all these spirits live in one vessel, where the HOLY SPIRIT also lives, the vessel cannot contain them, but overflows. So the sensitive SPIRIT, WHO is not used to living with an evil spirit nor with harshness, departs from a person such as this, and seeks to live with gentlenss and quiet. Then, when HE has left that man in whom HE lives, that man is emptied of the SPIRIT of RIGHTEOUSNESS, and from then on, since he is filled with the evil spirits, he is unstable in everything he does as he is dragged about here and there by evil spirits, totally blind with respect to good intentions. So it goes, therefore, with all those who are ill-tempered. Have nothing to do, therefore, with an angry temper. Instead put on patience and resist an angry temper and bitterness, and you will be found in the company of Holiness that is loved by the LORD. So take care that you never neglect this commandment, for if you master it, you will also be able to keep the rest of the commandments that I am about to give you. Be strong in them, and empowered; indeed, let all who want to walk in them be empowered. ... (5:2) --The Shepherd of Hermas, Mandate 5 (mid second century AD)

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