Living According to God
It is impossible for you to live according to God if you love pleasures and money. – Isidore the Priest, Sayings of the Desert Fathers
First, there is nothing wrong with having a good time, or having pleasurable experiences. In fact, these are necessary, I think, to having a well-balanced, healthy life. Second, there is nothing wrong with money, per se. Money, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad, it's a neutral tool that can be used in a variety of ways.
What Isidore the Priest is saying is that the LOVE of pleasures and money make it impossible to live according to God.
When we love pleasures, that becomes our focus – to continually find things that give us pleasure, to continually pursue that which makes us feel good, often at the expense of other things in our lives. Unfortunately we can also develop a tolerance over time that causes us to need and seek out more pleasurable experiences in order to recreate the feeling we used to have. This can become an addiction as with alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, etc. The term for this is gluttony. When we live for the love of pleasures, we are living for our self and not for God.
The same can be said for money. Money allows us to make transactions easily (as opposed to bartering). Money allows us to purchase food, transportation, and shelter. But the love of money causes problems. As Paul said, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” The love of money creates systems where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The love of money creates a feeling of scarcity. The love of money leads us to treat others as expendable. The term for this is greed. When we live for the love of money, we are living four our self and not for God.
Living according to God, however, leads us in a different direction. When we live according to God we work for justice, offer compassion, and pursue kindness. When we live according to God we live in abundance offering to others what we ourselves will never use. When we live according to God we look for ways to serve rather than to be served.
Pleasures and money are not bad things in and of themselves, but we need to have a balance and we need to put things in proper perspective. Lent is a time to do just that. Lent is a time to reevaluate how we are living and whether we are living a self-centered life or a God-centered life.
This Lent may we turn once again to the Lord, forsaking all that separates us from God, remembering that in his presence are pleasures for evermore.