I’m loving the reread of my Penguin classic titled Epictetus Discources and Selected Writings. Epictetus was born into slavery, achieved freedom (in more ways than one), and taught philosophy most of his life. He didn’t write a book, but made such an impression on one of his students that they wrote a compilation of his lectures so his thoughts live on today. Epictetus (55-135 AD) words are still relevant today. Here’s but a small, small sampling for your digestion this morning.
Epictetus thought the darkest vices were the lack of persistence and lack of self control.
Without persistence we don’t endure hardships well, without self control we don’t resist pleasures, instead we over indulge. Sound familiar, friend? Epictetus, during one of his ccd lectures, says it well – “Two words should be committed to memory and obeyed by alternately exhorting and restraining ourselves, words that ensure we lead a mainly blameless and untroubled life. These two words were persist and resist.” Well spoken, Epictetus. Persist and resist.
What struggle are you enduring well, friend? What sweet indulgence are you resisting? Again, the ability to resist impulse is how we humans build virtue and defeat the natural slide into any number of vices. The natural decay of my body is a great reminder that only a few among us have the fight to finish strong. God, help me persist and resist while receiving and giving love. Persist and resist. You and I tend to be better at one than the other. Where, friend, do you need to build the discipline to persist and resist? God, help me resist the temptation to indulge and rationalize it away. God, help me resist.