May 22, 2005
I recently got a new job, and it's a good one. Among other things, I have a very good boss--he takes care of us, makes sure we have the resources to do our work, understands our technical difficulties, motivates us without pressuring us, and protects us from the worst of the beurocracy. I was surprised once, after a hard day of work to hear one of my bosses say, "Hey! Take a break once in a while!" Would that I were so kind to myself.
A lot of the time, I am my own boss. Put more precisely, my fleshly desires and passions are my boss. My desires for entertainment, for pleasure, or for pride are so often what drive me. And I am not half so kind to myself as my boss at work is. I'll skip meals, deprive myself of sleep, deprive myself of time with God or with my husband, and never stop to rest--all in relentless pursuit of pride or pleasure. Half the time, I cheat myself of my pay: I'm up late seeking entertainment, and what I'm reading isn't really all that entertaining.
Serving desire is a cycle of slavery--though hungers seem sated when we feed them, in reality they grow stronger and are only put off for later. Counterintuitively, they only really go away when we starve them. Literally, of course, we need to eat--but even the physical hunger goes away when you've fasted for a little while. And so many other hungers--hungers for entertainment of this sort or goodies of that sort--just disappear if we deny ourselves those things for a little while. On the other hand, they seem that much more indispensible when we indulge them. Small wonder I am such a demanding boss!
There's another reason not to serve the flesh: it gets in the way of the spirit. You can't serve God and yourself. It just doesn't work. The selfish and the selfless can't both reign supreme in your character; the worldly and the spiritual are forever at war. If I want the peace that comes through service to God--the best boss--I must renounce service to myself.
What paradox is that! The road to satisfaction is through self-denial, and freedom comes through submission.