Teresa of Ávila: Guard

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Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Timothy 1:14

“If the soul receives favours and caresses from our Lord, let it examine carefully whether it rates itself more highly in consequence; unless self-abasement increases with God’s expressions of love, they do not come from the Holy Spirit. Inevitably, when they are divine, the greater the favours, the less the soul esteems itself and the more keenly it remembers its sins. It becomes more oblivious of self-interest: the will and memory grow more fervent in seeking solely God’s honour with no thought of self. It also becomes unceasingly careful not to deviate deliberately from the will of God and feels a keener conviction that instead of meriting such favours, it deserves hell. When these results follow, no graces or gifts received during prayer need alarm the soul which should rather trust in the mercy of God, Who is faithful and will not allow the devil to deceive it; but it is always well to be on one’s guard.”

Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) in Interior Castle 3.11 (Grand Rapids: CCEL) 109-110.

As I moved to 2 Timothy today, this Scripture stood out as important. Most people guard financial deposits and we need to guard the spiritual deposit entrusted to us with the help of the Holy Spirit. Few people write about this.

Seriously, I scanned at least a dozen classic works and few said anything. Then I read this excerpt from Teresa. It was eye-opening. We need to always balance two things. The good deposit alongside our badness.

Think about it. When our sinfulness and self-interest take over, we will not only deviate from God’s will, we will advance our own. So, we must be on guard. This relates to generosity in two ways.

On the positive side, when we do the will of God with the resources we have, we will appear as gracious, generous, humble conduits of unfathomable blessing. That’s God’s design and desire.

On the negative side, when we rate ourselves more highly than we ought, such as by taking credit for our giving, we emerge instead as prideful and pathetic. To avoid this, we must guard the good deposit entrusted to us by grace.

Speaking of Grace…heading to Grand Junction, Colorado today to pick up Grace St. Catherine tomorrow. Can’t wait to bring this German Shorthair Pointer home to start puppy training.