On June 24, 2020, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, explained why God gives more talents to one person and less to another, what the main task of a Christian is, and why salvation is impossible without fulfilling the Commandments of God. The Primate’s interview was published by the UOC Information and Education Department.
Answering the question on why God gives more talents to one person and less to another, Metropolitan Onuphry said, “Certainly God loves everyone and doesn’t have certain preferences. This means that in His attitude towards people, He does not look at the beauty of one’s face, one’s clothes or social status … But God is more pleasant to those who love Him, that is, those who keep His commandments. He Himself said: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me” (John 14:21).
As for opportunities and talents, there is no person who does not have talents or abilities. Each person has their own abilities, each person is unique in this regard. The task of life is not to bury your talents, but to develop them and use them in the glory of God for the benefit of people.
Talents can be compared with the grain that the Lord sowed in every person, and a person should already grow it in order to receive spiritual fruits. With the help of talents, we should learn to pray, forgive, endure, love, thank God, praise God and repent before God. Talents are given to us so that through them we would cultivate Christian virtues that lead a person to eternal salvation in Heaven. And as to why the Lord does not give every person the same amount of talents, I will say these words: this is the work of God, and not human. We should gratefully accept from God those talents that the Lord will honor us with and try to prayerfully increase them.”
Speaking about the main task of a Christian, the metropolitan answered, “A Christian must constantly improve themselves spiritually. If a skilled doctor or artist constantly improves themselves, in order to hone their skills, improve their art, then a Christian should work continuously on themselves in order to improve their image, given to them by God.”
Speaking about the need to fulfill the Commandments of God, His Beatitude Onuphry emphasized that it is wrong to think that God’s Commandments, such as “love your enemy”, are difficult to fulfill.
“The things which are impossible with men are possible with God (Luke 18:27). God saves a person, if a person wants it, if a person directs all his efforts to fulfill the commandments of God. “The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). But the work that a person carries out for his own salvation does not correspond to the greatness that God will adorn for those who are qualified to be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). To everyone who wants to be saved, He reaches out His omnipotent hand and leads to salvation. The Lord has left for all of us the fullness of Grace for our salvation in His Church. And when a person works spiritually, cleanses his heart and thus becomes able to accept the Grace of God, then all the commandments of God become desirable, joyful and not heavy for him, because the Grace of God comforts a person’s heart and gives the power to fulfill them.
If today a person does not meet the requirements and rules that the Gospel reminds us of, but recognizes these commandments, he will have a chance to be saved. He can at the last moment, like the malefactor on the cross, say: “I’m sorry!” – and God will forgive him. However, for this you need to know the Lord. The malefactor was not indifferent, he did care what others thought about God. He said, “You are the Lord, You suffer innocently, and I suffer according to my deeds” (see Luke 23:42) – this correct understanding of God made the malefactor capable of being saved in the last hours.”