When we work, says St. Basil, we do it for the sake of the good things that will come from our work. But only work for holiness and truth can never disappoint us, because it always leads to the good things we hope for.
Toil in the field is no novelty to farmers. Sailors are not surprised to run into a storm at sea. The hired hand expects to sweat in the summer heat. And to those who live a holy life, the troubles of this world can hardly be unexpected.
Every one of these callings has a particular kind of work that goes with it— not for its own sake, but because the laborers look forward to enjoying the good things that come from that work. In each case, what consoles them for all their trouble is the thing that really holds all human life together: hope.
Now, out of those people who work for earthly things, some of them will never enjoy what they looked for except in imagination; they will be completely disappointed. Even the others who do get what they expect soon need something else to hope for, because the first one has run away and faded from sight so quickly.
Only those who labor for holiness and truth never have their hopes crushed by deception. No outcome can destroy what they have worked for, because the heavenly Kingdom that awaits them is firm and sure.
As long as the word of truth is on your side, never let the slander of a lie bother you. Don’t let any threats from the emperor scare you. Don’t be annoyed when your friends laugh and make fun of you, or when the people who pretend to care about you condemn you, telling you—as their most attractive bait to deceive you—that they only want to give you good advice.
Let sound reason do battle against all of them, invoking the championship and help of our Lord Jesus Christ, the teacher of true religion, for whom suffering is sweet, and “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
–St. Basil, Letter 18
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Do I really put as much effort into working for holiness as I do into my job, or even into my hobbies?
Father, you have willed that all of us should work. In your mercy, let the work I do help me grow in this life, while at the same time helping Christ’s Kingdom to grow on earth.
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