Desert Wisdom: Deadly Daggers

Today, we move into Book Eight of The Desert Fathers, a chapter entitled “Nothing Done For Show.”

“They said of Arsenius and Theodore of Pherme that they hated fame and praise more than anything.  Arsenius avoided people likely to praise him.  Theodore did not avoid them, but their words were like daggers to him.” (8:3)

I confess to being virtually speechless after reading this.  I have lived and participated in a generation of Christianity and ministry where “the celebrity syndrome” and “upward mobility” are hallmarks.  I have courted praise and fed on affirmations.  Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy!

Who can ever think that these desert mothers and fathers have nothing to say to us?  In the hands of Jesus, they are means of redeeming grace to those of us who have been overly defined and directed by little other than our own egos.  May God give us His “severe mercy” to feel the praises of others as “deadly daggers,” so that full and true praise may always be directed to God, and God alone.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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