Introductory Note:

On Monday, Dallas Willard advised us: God has very high aims for you and me. His aim is that each one of us becomes the kind of person he can empower to do what we want. I am going to say that again. You and I are being trained and cultivated and grown to the point where God can empower us to do what we want. Now you recognize that a lot of work has to be done on our “wanter” before that can happen. But that is what life is about. And that’s what we are learning to do as disciples of Jesus Christ.

This training, this cultivation of our “wanters” often comes through times of affliction. Basil the Great joins us today to remind us that we can acknowledge God in these afflictions, and not only overcome them, but learn to embrace them: Only of them that labor for holiness and truth are the hopes never destroyed by deception; no issue can destroy their labors, for the kingdom of the heavens that awaits them is firm and sure.

—Renovaré Team

THE labors of the field come as no novelty to tillers of the land; sailors are not astonished if they meet a storm at sea; sweats in the summer heat are the common experience of the hired hand; and to them that have chosen to live a holy life the afflictions of this present world cannot come unforeseen. 

Each and all of these have the known and proper labor of their callings, not chosen for its own sake, but for the sake of the enjoyment of the good things to which they look forward. What in each of these cases acts as a consolation in trouble is that which really forms the bond and link of all human life: hope. 

Now of them that labor for the fruits of the earth, or for earthly things, some enjoy only in imagination what they have looked for, and are altogether disappointed; and even in the case of others, where the issue has answered expectation, another hope is soon needed, so quickly has the first fled and faded out of sight. 

Only of them that labor for holiness and truth are the hopes never destroyed by deception; no issue can destroy their labors, for the kingdom of the heavens that awaits them is firm and sure. 

So long then as the word of truth is on our side, never be in any wise distressed at the calumny of a lie; let no imperial threats scare you; do not be grieved at the laughter and mockery of your intimates, nor at the condemnation of those who pretend to care for you, and who put forward, as their most attractive bait to deceive, a pretense of giving good advice. 

Against them all let sound reason do battle, invoking the championship and succor of our Lord Jesus Christ, the teacher of true religion, for Whom to suffer is sweet, and to die is gain.”

From Basil the Great’s Letter 18, public domain, via Archive​.org.

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