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Flee luxury


Guard yourself against luxury as against a plague. It greatly weakens a Christian's soul. It teaches you to steal what is another's; to offend people, and to hold your hand back from giving alms as is required of a Christian.

Luxury is like a belly that knows no satiety, and like an abyss that devours what is good. It needs everything and wishes to change everything. "My house is not good enough, I must build a new one." "My skirt is no good, I must sew a new one." "It is a disgrace for me to go out in a simple carriage, I must buy an English coach." "I can't stand this food, I must cook better." "I just cannot drink simple wine, I must buy champagne." "My servants should not wait on me in such clothes, I must deck them out in better." And so on.

Thus luxury devours everything and weakens the mind. Guard yourself, then, against luxury. Nature is satisfied with little things, but caprice and luxury demand much.

Do not adorn your body with stylish clothes, as some are accustomed to do, but let your clothing be appropriate to your station. A Christian's clothing is clothing of the spirit. It should adorn the soul and not the body. The beauty of the soul is the image of God in which we were created. Seek this beauty and it shall suffice you.

Do not live in idleness, but exercise yourself in blessed labors. Since idleness is the cause of every evil, whoever lives in idleness inevitably also sins. Infirm and aged people that are unable to labor are excused from this.

If you have riches, avoid applying your heart to them, lest you thus depart in your heart from God. "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon" (Mt. 6:24). Likewise avoid squandering God's blessings on whims and luxury; they are given you from God not for your sake alone, but also for the sake of other poor people. Remember that you are the steward, and not the master of these goods. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof" (LXX-Ps. 23:1 [KJV-Ps. 24:1]). Be a faithful steward of your Lord, then, and not a squanderer of the Lord's property; and contenting yourself with moderation, thank the Creator of all good things and provide for poor people. Both those that guard their property like watchmen and those that squander it on whims and luxuries will be without excuse and shall be put to shame at the Judgement of Christ. Avoid this lest you be condemned with the wicked servants (Mt. 25:41).

If you have gathered property through injustice, bestow it on the poor, lest it reprove you at the second coming of Christ. In this matter imitate Zacchaeus the publican, whom Christ set as an example for all (Lk. 19:8). It is better to live in poverty than in unrighteous wealth. Choose, then, what is better and distribute what was ill gotten. If you do this, believe the Lord, that He will not forsake you, and that He Who does not forsake even birds and feeds them and provides for all creatures will give you what is needful for your life.

When you wish to eat or drink, call on the name of the Lord, and ask a blessing of Him for your food and drink, saying, "Lord, bless." And think here that you will taste and enjoy the good things of your Lord. For everything that is God's is good, as was said above, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof" (LXX-Ps. 23:1 [KJV-Ps. 24:1]). Whoever has possessions for himself from theft and injustice has a curse, and not the blessing of God. For this reason he should not call upon the name of God here. Likewise, also, they that wish to become drunk ought not call on the name of God, for drunkenness is forbidden by God.

Avoid attending feasts and banquets. It is very difficult to attend them without wounding your conscience. You will no longer return home the same person that left your home. Guard yourself, then; there is nothing better and more peaceful than to remain at your own home. What the eye does not see and the ear does not hear will not strike in your heart. Thoughts that are good and pleasing to God come nowhere else but in solitude and silence. Whatever good thing you may gather at home and in solitude you lose in the midst of people.

If you have need to leave your house and to go out to people, attend to yourself and guard your heart with all caution. Set the Lord your God before you everywhere and let the holy fear of Him go before you as a candle. Wherever you may go and wherever you may be, God is with you and knows and sees all your doings, and hears your words. Then watch yourself everywhere. 

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