Vainglory by John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom (c. 347 – 407) was an Early Church Father who served as archbishop of Constantinople. He was reputed for his eloquent preaching. The word Chrysostom is derived from a Greek word, meaning “golden-mouthed.” The following selection is taken from Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Gospel of St. John and the Epistle to the Hebrews, reprinted and published by B&R Samizdat Express. Kindle Edition.


VAINGLORY IS A THING powerful to blind even to very evident truths the minds of those ensnared by it . . . For it cannot be that he who is so zealous a slave to the glory of this present world can obtain the glory which is from God. Wherefore He rebuked them, saying, “How can ye believe, which receive the honor of men, and seek not the honor which cometh from God?” (John 5:44).  This passion is a sort of deep intoxication and makes him who is subdued by it hard to recover.

Nothing is so ridiculous and disgraceful as this passion, nothing so full of shame and dishonor. One may in many ways see, that to love honor is dishonor; and that true honor consists in neglecting honor, in making no account of it, but in saying and doing everything according to what seems good to God. In this way, we shall be able to receive a reward from Him who sees exactly all our doings, if we are content to have Him only for a spectator.

What need we other eyes, when He who shall confer the prize is ever beholding our actions? Is it not a strange thing that, whatever a servant does, he should do to please his master, should seek nothing more than his master’s observation, desire not to attract other eyes (though they are great men who are looking on) to his conduct, but aim at one thing only, that his master may observe him; while we who have a Lord so great, seek other spectators who can nothing profit, but rather hurt us by their observation, and make all our labor vain? Not so, I beseech you.

Let us call Him to applaud and view our actions from whom we shall receive our rewards. Let us have nothing to do with human eyes. For if we should even desire to attain this honor, we shall then attain to it, when we seek that which cometh from God alone. For, He says, “Them that honor Me, I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30).

Tell me, what is brighter than Paul, when he says, “We seek not the honor of men, neither of you nor yet of others.” (1 Thess. 2:6). What then is richer than him who hath nothing, and yet possesses all things? For as I said, when we are not mastered by them, then we shall master them, then we shall receive them. If then we desire to obtain honor, let us shun honor, so shall we be enabled after accomplishing the laws of God to obtain both the good things which are here and those which are promised, by the grace of Christ, with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory forever and ever. Amen.