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
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
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
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
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