If you struggle with covetousness, Asterius of Amasea has some surprising but practical advice for you. Instead of accumulating everything, just enjoy the sights in the market without buying. It would be better to get rid of your covetousness altogether, but at least a little window-shopping won’t take anything away from anyone else.
I beg you, if you are covetous, do not undergo these infinite hardships. For the covetous man who lives in luxury is deserving of pity, since he limits his existence with the belly’s enjoyment and other pleasures, regarding this as the goal of humanity. But in the case of the mean and penurious, his wretchedness has no limit, since he receives the goods of many, and does not give even to himself, and so has nothing for his pains.
No sailor traverses the sea simply for the sake of sailing, and no farmer passes his life in toil simply for the sake of farming; but it is obvious that both struggle on amid their hardships so that they may secure, the one the increase of the earth, and the other the wealth of maritime trade.
But tell me now, you who are covetous, what is your goal? To accumulate? And what kind of an object in life is this, to heap up and gloat over unused wealth?
The very sight, he replies, delights me. Then attack your disorder in another way. For you can allay this longing with what belongs to others. If the glitter of silver delights you, sit beside the silversmiths and gaze steadfastly upon the strong and glittering sheen; or haunt the markets, and enjoy the richly wrought vessels, platters, and pitchers. The sight of them is free and unhindered. Watch the moneychangers also who are continually reckoning and counting the coin at their tables.
But, better yet, yield to good advice and give up this inclination. For amendment is easy, since covetousness is not a necessity of nature, but a direction of choice, and to change it is not difficult for those who consider their own advantage.
–Asterius of Amasea, Sermon 3
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
When I think of my last shopping trip, how much of the money I spent there could have been put to better use?
Lord, you washed me clean at my baptism and formed me anew at my anointing. Keep me safe from the assaults of Satan and all the allurements of this life.
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