Keep These Three Precepts

“Someone asked Abba Anthony, ‘What must one do in order to please God?  The old man replied, pay attention to that I tell you: 1) whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes; 2) whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the Holy Scripture; 3) in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it.  Keep these three precepts and you will be saved’ ” (Anthony the Great, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, 2).

How do we please God?  The three precepts that Abba Anthony recommends provide the way: remember God, obey the commandments, and live in the present moment.

To remember God is to remember that we rely on His mercy for everything.  God is the Supreme Benefactor and we owe everything to Him.  To remember God is to remember that He has given us commandments that reflect His character and His glory.  Of course in our fallen state we don’t appreciate such commands and find them a burden and an obstacle to our freedom and happiness.  In the end though, the commandments lead us to Christ—the one who fulfilled the law perfectly and the one who picks up the broken pieces we have left behind.  To stay in the place we currently find ourselves is to remember that we can seek God only ‘today’ and not worry about the past (accept to repent and to learn) and entrust our future to Him who knows all things.

These three precepts are not an effort in ‘works’ to earn our salvation, but rather the path that exposes our need for a Redeemer.  Thanks be to God that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12) as we walk the path of salvation that God has laid out for us.


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