The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 43
THE LIBERTY OF THOSE HEARTS THAT ARE DEVOTED TO GOD
(The True Christians are unmoved.)
They obtain, therefore, that for which all the wisest men in the world have laboured vainly—to wit, full liberty of the mind; hence are they subject and bound to nothing but to God, nor are they obliged to do anything contrary to their will. In the world, as I had seen, everything was full of disappointment; the business of each man went differently from what he wished. Everyone was dependent on himself or others more than was beseeming, and being forcibly carried along by his own will or that of others, he ever warred either with himself or with others. Here everything was calm. For each one of these men had given himself over wholly to God, heeded nothing else, recognised no one save God as being above him. Therefore they obeyed not the commands of the world, flung its promises from them, laughed at its threats; everything outward they declared evil, for they were certain of their inward treasure.
(The True Christians are unyielding.)
2. Therefore the true Christian, who otherwise is yielding, cordial, willing, and ready to render service, is unyielding as regards the privilege of his heart. Therefore he values neither his friends nor his foes, nor his lord, nor his king, nor his wife, nor his children, nor lastly himself, so highly that for the sake of any of these he would abandon his purpose—to wit, his fear of God; rather does he walk everywhere with straight step. Whatever the world around him may do, say, threaten, promise, advise, beg, counsel, urge, he does not allow himself to be moved by any of these things.
(The Greatest Freedom and also the Greatest Bondage.)
3. As the world is ever perverse, and catches at the shadow rather than at the truth, so doth it here also; it founds its liberty on this, that he who is free should grant nothing to others, and should give himself over to sloth, pride, or passion. But the conduct of the Christian is far different. Only guarding his heart well that he may in freedom preserve it for God alone, he employs everything else for the wants of his fellow-men. Thus did I see and understand that no one in the world is more ready to serve than a man who is devoted to God. He gladly and willingly undertakes to render even such humble services of which he whom the world has intoxicated would be ashamed. If he but sees what can benefit a fellow-man, he does not hesitate, does not delay, spares no trouble, does not extol the services he has rendered, nor reproachfully remind others of them; whether he meets with gratitude or ingratitude, he continues serving quietly and gaily.
(And what a Fair Thing this is.)
4. Oh, blessed servitude of the sons of God, than which nothing freer can be imagined—a servitude in which he submits himself to God alone, that he may otherwise be free in everything! Oh, unhappy freedom of the world, than which nothing can be more slavish, wherein man, heeding not God Himself, wretchedly consents to become the slave of others, namely, when he serves created beings, over whom he should rule, and resists God, whom he should obey. Oh, mortals, did we but understand that there is One, One only, over us—the Lord our Creator and future Judge! He alone has the power to give us commands; but He commands us not as slaves, but as children who should obey Him. Free and unfettered He wishes us to be, even when we obey Him. Verily, to serve Christ is to be as a king; for to be God's serf is a far greater glory than to be the monarch of the whole world. What, then, must it be to be God's friend and child?