Therefore the will of the Father is the life and we are of all men.
Thy Kingdom Come
Jesus went about in the towns and villages and taught all men the happiness of doing the Father's will. And he was sorry for people because they perish without knowing what true life consists of, and trouble and torment themselves without knowing why, like scattered sheep that have no shepherd. Once many people came to Jesus to hear his teaching and he went up on a hill and sat down. His pupils surrounded him. And he began to teach the people what the Father's will is. He said:
Blessed are the poor and the homeless, for they live in the will of the Father. If they are hungry they shall be satisfied, and if they sorrow and weep they shall be comforted. If people despise them, thrust them aside, and drive them away, let them be glad of it, for so God's people have always been treated and they receive a heavenly reward.
But woe to the rich, for they have already got what they wanted, and will get nothing more. Now they are satisfied, but they too will be hungry. Now they rejoice, but they too will be sad. Woe to those whom everyone praises, for only deceivers are praised by everybody.
Blessed are the poor and homeless; but blessed only if they are poor not merely outwardly but also in spirit-just as salt is good only when it has saltness in it and is not salt merely in appearance.
So you also, the poor and homeless, are the teachers of the world; you are blessed if you know that true happiness is in being homeless and poor. But if you are poor only outwardly then, like salt that has no savor, you are good for nothing. You are the light of the world, therefore do not hide your light but let men see it. When a man lights a candle he does not put it under the bench but on the table that it should give light to everyone in the room. So you, too, should not hide your light but show it by your actions, that men may see that you have the truth, and seeing your good deeds may understand your heavenly Father.
And do not think that I free you from the law. I teach not release from the law but fulfillment of the eternal law. As long as there are men under heaven the eternal law remains. There will be no release from law till men of themselves fulfill the eternal law completely. And now, I give you the commandments of that eternal law. If anyone releases himself from any of these short commandments and teaches others that they may do so, he shall be least in the kingdom of heaven, but he who fulfills them and thereby teaches others to fulfill them shall be great in the kingdom of heaven. For if your virtue is no more than the virtue of the Orthodox legalists you will never reach the kingdom of heaven. These are the commandments:
In the former law it was said: Do not kill, and if anyone kills another he must be judged.
But I tell you that everyone who grows angry with' his brother-man deserves judgment, and still more to blame is he who speaks abusively to his brother-man. So if you wish to pray to God, first think whether there is anyone who has something against you. If you remember even one man who considers that you have offended him, leave your prayers and go first to make peace with your brotherman, and then you may pray. Know that God requires neither sacrifice nor prayer, but only peace, concord, and love among men; and that you can neither pray nor think of God if there is a single man towards whom you do not feel love.
So this is the first commandment: Do not be angry, and do not rail; and if you have spoken harshly to anyone make peace with him and do it so that no one should have a grudge against you.
In the former law it was said: Do not commit adultery, and if you wish to put away your wife, give her a letter of divorcement. But I tell you that if you look lustfully at a woman's beauty you are already committing adultery. All sensuality destroys the soul, and so it is better for you to renounce the pleasures of the flesh than to destroy your life. And if you put away your wife, then besides being vicious yourself you drive her to wantonness too, as well as him with whom she may unite. So that is the second commandment: Do not think that love of a woman is good, do not desire women, but live with her with whom you have become united, and do not leave her.
In the former law it was said: Do not utter the name of the Lord God in vain, do not call upon God when lying, and do not dishonor the name of your God. Do not swear to any untruth and so profane your God.
But I tell you that every oath is a profanation of God. Therefore do not swear at all. Man cannot promise anything, for he is wholly in the power of the Father. He cannot make one gray hair black. How then can he swear beforehand that he will do this or that, and swear to it by God? Every oath is a profanation of God, for if a man is compelled to fulfill under an oath that which is against the will of God it shows that he had promised to act contrary to God's will, and so every oath is an evil. But when men ask you about anything, say Yes if it is yes, or no if it is no; anything added to that is evil.
So the third commandment is: Never swear anything for anyone. Say Yes when it is yes, No when it is no, and understand that every oath is evil. In the former law it was said that if a man killed another he must give a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, an arm for an arm, an ox for an ox, a slave for a slave, and much else. But I say to you: Do not fight evil by evil, and not only do not exact at law an ox for an ox, a slave for a slave, a life for a life, but do not resist evil at all. If anyone wishes to take an ox from you, give him another; if he wants to take your coat by law, give him your shirt as well; if anyone knocks out a tooth on one side, turn the other side to him. If he would make you do one piece of work for him, do two. If men wish to take your property, let them have it. If they owe you money and do not return it, do not demand it. And therefore: Do not judge or go to law, do not punish, and you yourself will not be judged or punished. Forgive everyone and you will be forgiven; but if you judge others they will judge you also.
You cannot judge, for men are all blind and do not see the truth. How can you see a speck in your brother's eye when there is dust in your own? You must first get your own eye clear-but whose eyes are perfectly clear? Can a blind man lead the blind? They will both fall into the pit. And those who judge and punish are like blind men leading the blind.
Those who judge, and condemn others to violent treatment, wounds, mutilation, or death, wish to correct them, but what can come of their teaching except that the pupils will learn to become just like their teacher? What then will they do when they have learnt the lesson? Only what their teacher does: violence and murder. And do not expect to find justice in the courts. To entrust one's love of justice to men's courts is like throwing precious pearls to swine: they will trample on them and will tear you to pieces. And therefore the fourth commandment is: However men may wrong you, do not return evil, do not judge or go to law, do not sue, and do not punish. In the former law it was said: Do good to men of your own nation and do harm to foreigners.
But I tell you: Love not only your own countrymen, but people of other nations also. Let others hate you, attack you, and wrong you, but speak well of them and do good to them. If you are attached only to your own countrymen, remember that all men are attached to their own countrymen, and wars result from that. But behave equally well to men of all nations, and you will be sons of the Father. All men are His children, so they are all brothers to you.
And so this is the fifth commandment: Treat foreigners as I have told you to treat one another. To the Father of all men there are no separate nations or separate kingdoms: all are brothers, all sons of one Father. Make no distinctions among people as to nations and kingdoms.
- Do not be angry, but live at peace with all men.
- Do not indulge yourself in sexual gratification.
- Do not promise anything on oath to anyone.
- Do not resist evil, do not judge and do not go to law.
- Make no distinction of nationality, but love foreigners as your own people.
All these commandments are contained in one:
All that you wish men to do to you, do you to them.
Do not fulfill these commandments for praise from men. If you do it for men, then from men you have your reward. But if you do it not for men, your reward is from your heavenly Father. So if you do good to others do not boast about it before men. That is what the hypocrites do, to obtain praise. And they get what they seek. But if you do good to men, do it so that no one sees it, and that your left hand should not know what your right hand does. And your Father will see it and will give you what you need.
And if you wish to pray, do not do it as the hypocrites do. They love to pray in the churches and in the sight of men. They do it for men's praise, and from men receive what they aim at.
But if you wish to pray, go where no one will see you, and pray to the Father of your spirit, and He will see what is in your soul and will give you what your soul desires.
When you pray, do not wag your tongue as the hypocrites do. Your Father knows what you need before you open your lips.
Pray only thus:
Our Father, without beginning and without end, like the heavens! May Thy being alone be holy. May power be Thine alone, so that Thy will may be done, without beginning and without end, on earth. Give me the food of life this present day. Efface my former mistakes and wipe them out, as I efface and wipe out all the mistakes my brothers have made; that I may not fall into temptation, but be saved from evil. For the power and strength are Thine, and the decision is Thine.
If you pray, free yourself above all from malice against anyone. For if you do not forgive others their faults, your Father will not forgive you yours.
If you fast, do so without any parade of it before others. The hypocrites fast that people should see it and praise them-and people do praise them, so they get what they wanted. But you should not do so; if you suffer want, go about with a cheerful face that men may not see, but that your Father may see and give you what you need.
Do not lay up store for yourself on earth. On earth maggots consume, and rust eats, and thieves steal: but lay up for yourselves heavenly riches. Heavenly riches are not consumed by maggots, nor eaten away by rust, nor do thieves steal them. Where your riches are, there will your heart be also.
The light of the body is the eye, and the light of the soul is the heart. If your eye is dim your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light of your heart is dim your whole soul will be in darkness. You cannot serve two masters at the same time. If you please the one you will offend the other. You cannot serve both God and the flesh. Either you will work for the earthly life or for God. Therefore do not be anxious about what you will eat or drink, or how you will be dressed. For the life is more wonderful than food and clothing and God has given you this.
Look on God's creatures, the birds. They do not sow or reap or gather in the harvest, yet God feeds them. In God's sight man is not less than a bird. If God gave man life, He will be able to feed him too. And you yourselves know that you can do nothing of yourselves, however you may strive. You cannot lengthen your life by an hour. And why do you trouble about clothing? The flowers of the field do no work and do not spin, but they are adorned as Solomon in all his luxury never was.
And if God has so adorned the grass which grows to-day, and to-morrow is cut down, will He not clothe you?
Do not be afraid and do not worry; do not say that you must think of what you will eat and how you will be clothed. All men need these things and God knows that you need them. So do not trouble about the future. Live in the present day. Take care to be in the Father's will. Desire that which alone is important, and the rest will come of itself. Seek only to be in the will of the Father, and do not trouble about the future, for when it comes its trouble will come too. There is enough evil in the present.
Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it will be opened to you. Where is there a father who would give his son a stone instead of bread, or a snake instead of a fish? Then why do you think if we wicked men can give our children what they need, that your Father in heaven will not give you what you truly need, if you ask Him? Ask, and the heavenly Father will give the spirit of life to them that ask Him.
Narrow is the path to life, but enter by that narrow way. There is only one entry to life-a strait and narrow one. Great and wide is the field around, but it leads to destruction. The narrow way alone leads to life, and few find it. But do not be afraid, little flock! The Father has prepared the Kingdom for you. Only, beware of false prophets and teachers; they come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits-by what comes from them-you will know them. From the burdock you do not gather grapes, nor apples from an aspen. A good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bad fruit. So you will know these men by the fruits of their teaching.
A good man out of his good heart brings forth all that is good. But an evil man out of his evil heart brings forth all that is evil. For from the overflow of the heart the lips speak. And therefore if teachers tell you to do to others what would be bad for yourselves, if they teach violence, executions, and wars- then you may know that they are false teachers.
For it is not those who say: 'Lord, Lord!' who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who fulfill the will of the heavenly Father. The false teachers will say: 'Lord, Lord! We taught your doctrine, and by your teaching drove out evil. But I will disown them and say: 'No, I never recognized you and do not recognize you now, Go away from me; you do what is unlawful.'
He who hears these words of mine and acts on them is like a reasonable man who builds his house on a rock. And his house will stand against all storms. But he who hears these words of mine and does not act on them is like a foolish man who builds his house on the sand. When a storm comes his house will fall and all in it will perish.
And the people were all astonished at this teaching, for the teaching of Jesus was quite different from that of the Orthodox professors of the law. They taught a law that had to be obeyed, but Jesus taught that all men are free. And in Jesus Christ were fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah: that a people living in darkness, in the shadow of death, saw the light of life. That he who brought this light of truth did no violence or harm to men, but was meek and gentle. To bring truth into the world he neither disputes nor shouts, nor is his voice raised, and he will not break a straw or put out the smallest light, and all the hope of men is in his teaching.
More Articles by This Author Leo Tolstoy
- Full name: Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
- Russian novelist and philosopher
- Born September 9th, 1828 and died November 20th, 1910
- Best known for War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877)