There was once a festival in Scetis, and an old man was given a cup of wine. He refused it saying, ‘Take this death away from me.’ On seeing it, the others who were eating with him refused it also.
A brother was hungry early in the morning, and he fought his desire to eat before the third hour. When the third hour came, he forced himself to wait until the sixth hour. At that time he broke loaves and sat down to eat, then he stood up again, saying to himself, ‘Now wait until the ninth hour.’ At the ninth hour he said a prayer and saw the power of the devil like smoke rising from his manual work, and his hunger vanished.
—-sayings of the desert
The old man who refused the cup of wine was not making a statement on consumption of alcohol but was rather talking about what controls us. All of us need to look seriously at our motivations and our driving factors of life. Do we just go along with anything that comes our way? Do we set our own course or simply allow the crowd to lead the way? Many times the crowd has led to very poor choices and an undesirable outcome. We should be focused on becoming persons who think for ourselves and act out of a spiritual drive. We all know that our world cries out for people who exercise wisdom and courage. Not only did the father offer his deference to God but he led others to do the same. People are watching what you do. May we all be those who bring out the best in those who observe our lives.
The second word from the fathers was concerning fasting until the sixth hour. We, like the old man, sometimes wake up to very fleshly hungers. Our drive is to satisfy ourselves, but that is the will of the evil one and not the will of God. When Jesus was challenged in the desert by the devil he said: “It is written – One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” We must take careful note of our “first thoughts” and send them up to God and allow Him to give us guidance. Many a person has failed miserably in life for acting imprudently. All of life must be put in the desert mode of waiting upon the Lord. When we wait on the Lord the evil one is cast away from us.
I challenge you, even if you don’t believe in a literal devil, take a pause of self-denial and just see if your result is not better. A life without filters and controls can be very hazardous.
Lord help me to just take the time to consider what I am doing. In rashness many mistakes are made. Please give me the wisdom of self-denial and the courage to be and follow good examples that You send my way. Let me never take evil lightly or get so bold as to think I have all the right answers. May the words of Jesus and the wisdom of the desert sustain me. Guide me this day and every day.