The greatest deceit that sin has is to convince us that whatever we enjoy or take pleasure surely can’t be deadly. It often will only show this with what we deem to be “good” things. Rest, laughter, entertainment, pleasure – all these are things that sin convinces are not deadly to faith. Sin goes even further to convince us that to deny such things is overbearing, foolish and unnecessary. We are convinced that things that are “good” for us are harmless. Sin wants to take the sting out of everything.
Alcohol, for example, is a deadly thing. A little can be good but excess can destroy and too much can even kill. What we refuse to pay attention to is the words “a little”. What distinguishes a fool from a wise man is not so much their ability to have or not have, but their ability to distinguish between moderation and indulgence. A wise man has learned and understood the phrase “a little” – a fool has learned nothing of it and redefines the terms for his benefit.
And as the danger is with alcohol, so can anything become. All of which we enjoy can be good, and all of which we enjoy can kill. Our failure is often not in the ability to restrain a pleasure, but in its indulgence. In small doses, nothing is deadly, but unrestrained, everything is deadly. This is the what the walk of holiness learns to distinguish above all things. A holy man refuses nothing yet can refrain from all things. Laughter is beautiful, but a wise man never laughs too much. A wise man knows the estate of this world and knows that laughter is not the fitting estate for this world, but instead mourning. A wise man also knows that without laughter, life is empty, and to refuse to laugh is to refuse to be human. And so a wise man, a holy man, learns when to laugh and when to weep.
We must consider everything to be deadly. Even the most precious things in this life, the things that are dearest to us, we must realize our soul’s power to turn them into a murderous instrument. But we must not commit the error in the opposite direction, of thinking that because everything is deadly that everything must be refused. But, I fear, this is not the mistake of many. Instead, the general failure is neglecting to consider the deadliness and pernicious nature of all things we encounter.
Christ himself has redrawn for us where life is to be found. If everything is deadly, it is him alone where we can find life, and it is only through him alone that we may find life in anything else. Without Christ all things are dead, but with him all things become alive. When Christ is centralized in our heart, it is then that we learn the moderation that is necessary in a world full of deadly things. But when immoderation and indulgence has overcome us we must see that this is not a weakness of our own will, but at its core, it is a displacement of Christ from the center of our hearts.
It is only when Christ is the center of our heart and soul that we will be able to truly enjoy the pleasures of this life, for we will enjoy nothing apart from him. We will see that we are in a dalliance with death.
It is not that we will seek to make Christ the center so that we can enjoy the things of this world, but that we see that Christ himself and Christ alone is the only true Joy and Happiness, and all things lead us to joy in him when united to him.
Christ is the only cure for the deadly world we live in. Apart from him we are incessantly indulging ourselves in a world of fatal pleasure, but when we find our joy and pleasure in him, then we learn the true place of everything in this world, then we learn the true moderation of all things in this world.