Sunday, January 24, 2016

Seek Not Your Own Glory

Our pastor is teaching through some of the Psalms, so I thought it might be helpful to post some patristic reflections about the texts being used.

O Lᴏʀᴅ my God, if I have done this,
    if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
    or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
    and let him trample my life to the ground
    and lay my glory in the dust.  (Ps 7:3-5)

The pursuit of human glory, we maintain, is forbidden not only by the teaching of Jesus, but also by the Old Testament.  Accordingly we find one of the prophets, when imprecating upon himself certain punishments for the commission of certain sins, includes among the punishments this one of earthly glory.  He says, “O Lord my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; if I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yes, rather, I have delivered him that without cause is my enemy;) let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; even let him tread down my life upon the earth, and set my glory up on high.” [Origen’s wording]  And these precepts of our Lord,
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink.… Look at the birds of the air (or behold the ravens): they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?… And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field;” [Mt 6:25-28]
—these precepts, and those which follow, are not inconsistent with the promised blessings of the law, which teaches that the just “shall eat their bread to the full;” [Le 26:5] nor with that saying of Solomon, “The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want.” [Pr 13:25]  For we must consider the food promised in the law as the food of the soul, which is to satisfy not both parts of man’s nature, but the soul only.  And the words of the Gospel, although probably containing a deeper meaning, may yet be taken in their more simple and obvious sense, as teaching us not to be disturbed with anxieties about our food and clothing, but, while living in plainness, and desiring only what is needful, to put our trust in the providence of God.

Origen, Against Celsus VII.24

No comments: