God crowns us for resisting even the small temptations

There was an old man in the Thebaid who lived in a cave and who had an experienced disciple. Now it was the old man’s custom to give him some advice for his benefit every evening and then to say a prayer and send him to bed. One day, knowing the old man’s great ascesis, some devout seculars went to see him and he edified them. When they had gone, the old man sat down again in the evening, according to custom, and admonished the brother, but while he was speaking to him, he fell asleep. The brother waited for the old man to wake up and say the prayer. Having sat for a long time, when the old man did not awaken, he was troubled by the thought of going to rest without being sent, but he did violence to himself, resisted the thought, and remained. Later the same thought assailed him, but he did not go away, and thus he resisted this temptation seven times. After this, the night being well advanced, the old man awoke and found him sitting beside him. He said to him, “Haven’t you gone yet?” He said, “No, abba, for you haven’t sent me.” And the old man aid, “Why did you not wake me up?” He siad “I did not dare to wake you, so as not to disturb you.” They arose and recited the dawn prayers, and after the synaxis the old man dismissed the brother and sat down alone. At that time he was rapt in ecstasy, and someone showed him a wonderful place where there was a throne and on the throne seven crowns. He asked him who was showing, “Whose is that?” He said to him, “It is your disciple’s; God has granted this place and the throne to him because os his obedience; as for the seven crowns, he wore them this night.” When he heard this the old man was filled with wonder, and in his astonishment he called the brother and said to him, “Tell me what you have done this night.” The other said, “Forgive, abba, I have done nothing.” Thinking that through humility he did not want to say anything, the old man said to him, “I will not let you go till you have told me what you have done and what you have thought this night.” The brother, who thought he had not done anything, did not know what to say. So he said to his father, “Abba, I have done nothing except this: Seven times I was oppressed by the thought of going away before you had dismissed me, and I did not go.” When he heard this the old man understood that God had crowned him as many times as he had resisted the temptation. He said nothing to the brother, but he related it to the spiritual Fathers for their benefit, so that we may know that God grants us crowns even for small things. Truly it is good to constrain oneself for God’s sake. In truth the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take possession of it. (Matt 11:12)

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