The Invaluable vs. The Valueless

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught:

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  (Matthew 5:44-45)

As recorded in THE PHILOKALIA,  St Peter of Damaskos writes:

“I marvel at God’s wisdom, at how the most indispensable things – air, fire, water, earth – are readily available to all.”

St. Paul the Apostle says in his Letter to the Romans (6:23), words that have become well known to most Christians:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

How hard we work for the valueless; how freely available is the invaluable.  St. Peter of Damaskos continues:

“And not simply this, but things conducive to the soul’s salvation are more accessible than other things, while soul-destroying things are harder to come by. For example, poverty, which anyone can experience, is conducive to the soul’s salvation; while riches, which are not simply at our command, are generally a hindrance. It is the same with dishonor, humiliation, patience, obedience, submission, self-control, fasting, vigils, the cutting off of one’s will, bodily enfeeblement, thankfulness for all things, trials, injuries, the lack of life’s necessities, abstinence from sensual pleasure, destitution, forbearance – in short, all the things conducive to the spiritual life are freely available. No one fights over them. On the contrary, everyone leaves them to those who choose to accept them, whether they have been sought for or have come against our will.”

The Lord Jesus commanded:

“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.”  (John 6:27)

Staying with the same text from THE PHILOKALIA, we find St. Peter of Damaskos next says:

“Soul-destroying things, on the other hand, are not so readily within our grasp – things, like wealth, glory, pride, intolerance, power, authority, dissipation, gluttony, excessive sleep, having one’s own way, health and bodily strength, an easy life, a good income, unrestricted hedonism, lavish and costly clothes, and so on. People struggle greatly for these things, but only a few attain them, and in any case the benefit they confer is fleeting. In short, they produce a great deal of trouble and very little enjoyment. For they bring to those who possess them, as well as to those who do not possess them but desire to do so, all manner of distress.”

In the bible, we find these words attributed to St. Paul the apostle:

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

The text from St. Peter of Damaskos concludes with these words:

“None the less, it is not the thing itself, but its misuse, that is evil. For we were given hands and feet, not so that we might steal and plunder and lay violent hands on one another, but so that we might use them in ways agreeable to God.”  (THE PHILOKALIA, Kindle Loc. 28332-56)

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