Clement of Alexandria: Unencumbered

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The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3

“Delicacies spent on pleasures become a dangerous shipwreck to men; for this voluptuous and ignoble life of the many is alien to true love for the beautiful and to refined pleasures… Love of wealth displaces a man from the right mode of life, and induces him to cease from feeling shame at what is shameful; if only, like a beast, he has power to eat all sorts of things, and to drink in like manner, and to satiate in every way his lewd desires. And so very rarely does he inherit the kingdom of God…

We, then, on our journey to the truth, must be unencumbered. Carry not, said the Lord, purse, nor scrip, nor shoes (Luke 10:4); that is, possess not wealth, which is only treasured up in a purse; fill not your own stores, as if laying up produce in a bag, but communicate to those who have need… We must, then, cast away the multitude of vessels, silver and gold drinking cups, and the crowd of domestics, receiving as we have done from the Instructor the fair and grave attendants, Self-help and Simplicity.

But that which is superfluous, what they call ornaments and the furniture of the rich, is a burden, not an ornament to the body. He who climbs to the heavens by force, must carry with him the fair staff of beneficence, and attain to the true rest by communicating to those who are in distress. For the Scripture avouches, that the true riches of the soul are a man’s ransom, (Proverbs 13:8) that is, if he is rich, he will be saved by distributing it. For as gushing wells, when pumped out, rise again to their former measure, so giving away, being the benignant spring of love, by communicating of its drink to the thirsty, again increases and is replenished…

For the Word is a possession that wants nothing, and is the cause of all abundance… The good man, then, can never be in difficulties so long as he keeps intact his confession towards God. For it appertains to him to ask and to receive whatever he requires from the Father of all; and to enjoy what is his own, if he keep the Son. And this also appertains to him, to feel no want. This Word, who trains us, confers on us the true riches. Nor is the growing rich an object of envy to those who possess through Him the privilege of wanting nothing. He that has this wealth shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Clement of Alexandria in “Frugality a Good Provision for the Christian” in The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 7. The new header photo is from our peaceful porch in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jenni and I love how peaceful it is.

As I rest this week, reading the Word and sitting at the feet of instructors like Clement, I find true riches. While most people pursue power, pleasures, or possessions, we discover our purpose when we live life unencumbered.

Freedom is found through communicating and distributing. Like a gushing well, God replenishes our supply to be springs of love who share with the thirsty. I needed to hear this on my break. It nudges me to stay the course.

“For the Word is a possession that wants nothing, and is the cause of all abundance.” As I soak in this truth I realize the gravity of it. The Word always has something good for me, something that will restore me. It’s true for all of us.

I give thanks today for the privilege of “wanting nothing.”