St. Dimitry of Rostov
Be zealous, o man, and always be a blaze in soul; flee despondency and coldness so that you will not hear: Because “you were neither cold nor hot … I will vomit you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15, 16). Strive to be watchful and do not waste the time of your life in vanity, for it has been given to you for the correction of soul and the acquiring of eternal good. Look to it that not one day would pass in vainity – for if you lose the day (to vanity) then you will never have it again. If a day has passed, it has passed; it is not within your power to return it. Therefore, do not waste your day on emptiness, instead use the given flow of time to perfect yourself. True life was not given to you in vain, but for this: that you would use each day for profit and be accomplishing the struggle (podvig) for virtues; never be idle.
True life (spiritual life) is not relaxation, but battle and war, a time for trading, a school, a navigation across the sea. There can be no tranquility during war, or rest in school or in trading, or ease when sailing upon the sea. Who is on the sea without fear and sobriety? Who is in the midst of war without dread? Who goes to market or school for rest? No one. Be not slothful in the things of God, nor despondent, but resolutely ready yourself and labor. For you the harvest is now; now is the time for trading;1 now is the time for buying – reap and buy now so that you will not be found with empty hands, a stranger to God's grace, and turned over to sever judgment. The Lord rebuked the lazy servant, not for receiving and preserving the talent, but for failing to multiply it, “You wicked and lazy servant … you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at My coming I would have received back my own with interest” (Mat. 25:26-7).
Do not bury the talent given to you in the earth through sloth and carelessness, instead strive, be vigilant, ceaselessly adding warmth to warmth and fire to fire, so that you multiply the good given to you and may daringly say to the Lord on that Day, “Here, Lord, I have gained five talents,” and you will hear the Lord's sweet voice, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Mat. 25: 20-21).
Translated from Russian by Fr. Zechariah Lynch
1 cf. The parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price, Matthew 25: 13:44-46.