Monday, November 16, 2009

Some Pagan Wisdom

Pseudo-Crates, Epistle 15

Shun not only the worst of evils, injustic and self-indulgence, but also their causes, pleasures. For you will concentrate on these alone, both present and future, and on nothing else. And pursue not only the best of goods, self control and perseverance, but also their causes, toils, and do not shun them on account of their harshness. For would you not exchange inferior things for something great? As you would receeive gold in exchange for copper, so you would receive virtue in exchange for toils.


From this book.

I especially like the last sentence. As a teacher I have found this one of the hardest things to help students appreciate. The rewards of hard work! But then it took me thirty years to work it out, so why should they be any quicker? Of course, the satisfaction of hard work and the development of self control and perseverance are not without their own dangers: pride, self reliance, and addiction to work. It's a good quote for a pagan but I prefer Ecclesiastes 2:24,

There is nothng better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

Or even better, our NT purveyor of wisdom, James 1:17

Every generous at of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

The good deeds and the good things are all from God, so particpate and enjoy with thankfulness.

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