Hansen May 16, at You can either post it here or use the contact page. They obeyed without hesitation. It would keep my mind occupied and stop me freaking out thinking: Calvin remarks 'Though Satan drives us every day to crime, and reigns in us when he hurries us into a course of extraordinary wickedness, yet he is said to enter into the reprobate when he takes possession of all their senses, overthrows the fear of God, extinguishes the light of reason, and destroys every feeling of shame. Put it out of your mind. Retrieved July 30,
Calvin remarks 'Though Satan drives us every day to crime, and reigns in us when he hurries us into a course of extraordinary wickedness, yet he is said to enter into the reprobate when he takes possession of all their senses, overthrows the fear of God, extinguishes the light of reason, and destroys every feeling of shame. We may learn, also, that when Satan tempts men, he commonly does it by exciting and raising to the highest pitch their native passions. He does not make them act contrary to their nature, but leads them on to act out their proper disposition.
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament. Here is a breakout of. Even in this verse, Satan entering him indicates he will soon carry out his devilish deed. This would make Judas a Judean and the only non-Galilean of the group. There were apparently more disciples of Jesus than the inner circle of 12 cf "seventy other" in Lk Since Judas was one " of the twelve ," he clearly had exposure to light that only a few humans have had really just the other 11 disciples.
To sin against such light is all the more heinous. But even worse is that sin against such light results in a far greater degree of eternal punishment for Judas!
Yet deeply trying as it must have been to the heart of Christ, there is something useful about even that horrible transaction.
Nay, for here is one of the twelve apostles, yet he betrays his Master. Sometimes, we have found this betrayal to be a source of comfort. I have myself desired, in receiving members into the church, to be very careful if possible only to receive good men and true; yet, though pastors and elders of the church may exercise the strictest watch, some of the worst of men will manage to get in.
Yes, we might have been put out of heart in building up the Church of God if it had not been for this sad but truthful narrative concerning Judas and his betrayal of our Lord. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him The context between the love of Jesus and hatred of Judas is striking - Jesus is about to wash the disciple's feet, while Judas is about to betray Jesus.
And don't miss the humble, loving action of Jesus, the Creator of the universe, stooping low to wash the feet of the very man He knew would soon betray Him! What kind of love is this! Jesus did not just teach verbally to "love your enemies" Mt 5: He demonstrated that true love is unconditional and is manifest by one's actions which authenticate one's words.
Do I say I love the brethren, but shy away from "washing their feet" however that might be manifest? And just as amazing is the fact that Judas looked down as Jesus washed his feet one pictures Jesus' eyes looking up, meeting Judas' eyes and yet Judas' heart remained unmoved by so great an act of love.
Since it is possible to be religious and yet to be in league with Satan, we must guard against evil religion. Behind the scenes of world and personal events lurks an evil spirit, the devil, who is working for his own ends in opposition to God.
If he can pawn off counterfeit religions that keep people from knowing the true God, he can hold them in spiritual darkness. They think that they are right with God, but in reality, they are not. Inherent in such an approach to salvation are several fatally flawed notions. Thus the character of God is blasphemed. So you can see why Satan loves religion. It makes the cross unnecessary and it feeds the pride of sinful man.
But we must go a step further:. People can even profess and belong to true religion and yet be in league with Satan.
The chief priests and scribes believed in the true God of the Bible, who revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Judas was not just a follower of Jesus, but also one of the twelve. Even so, there are many who profess to be Christians, but they are in harmony with Satan, not with Jesus Christ. The Crusades were ostensibly under the banner of Christianity, but there was nothing Christian about them.
Satan still uses them to malign true Christianity. The Inquisition and the persecution carried on under the reign of Bloody Mary in England were done in the name of Christ, and yet these events and the people responsible for them were hideously evil. The Protestant-Catholic terrorism in Northern Ireland is not Christian in any sense of the word, and yet the world perceives of it as Christian versus Christian.
Looking at the Jewish religious leaders and Judas, we can see a number of dangers for all who hold to belief in the one true God:. Religious profession is not enough. They professed to believe in the Scriptures. Judas professed to be a follower of Christ. And yet they killed the sinless Savior. Anyone can make a profession of faith, but in and of itself, such a profession is not enough to guard us from evil religion.
Religious knowledge is not enough. They studied it for years in the original language. They could cite lengthy passages by memory. But in spite of their impressive learning, they missed Christ. Their knowledge filled them with pride, when it should have humbled them before God. Spiritual knowledge is good if it brings us to the true knowledge of God and of ourselves, which always results in humility. But if it puffs us up with all that we know, it will bring us to ruin.
Religious position is not enough. They had spiritual oversight of more than a million Jews. But they crucified the Savior. Judas was one of the twelve apostles, hand-picked by Jesus Christ. Yet he betrayed the Savior of the world for a small bag of silver. You can be the pastor of a large church or the head of a large denomination and yet be in league with Satan.
Religious ritual is not enough. But at the same time, they were going to murder an innocent man, their Messiah, no less! The Feast of Unleavened Bread that immediately followed pictured removing sin from our lives. If they had taken to heart the message of Passover, how could they have been plotting murder at the same time? It is easy to go through religious rituals and miss the message behind the ritual.
Mafia members can go to the Mass and go home and arrange the murder of a rival. Church members can partake of communion and go home and verbally abuse their mates or children. Ritual is not enough. Religious service is not enough. Judas had served Christ for three years in as close a capacity as possible. But all the religious service in the world is worthless if we betray Jesus. Religious affiliation is not enough. Judas was a member of the twelve.
He was personally acquainted with Peter, James, and John, not to mention, Jesus. He could tell you inside stories about these great men. You would think that some of it would have rubbed off on him. But you can know godly men and run in godly circles and yet not be godly yourself.
Religious experience is not enough. He had seen Jesus heal the sick and raise the dead. He had watched Jesus feed the 5, and walk on the water. He had seen Jesus hold large crowds spellbound with His teaching. But all of his spiritual experiences did not keep Judas from betraying Jesus.
Even so, people today report all sorts of interesting and amazing spiritual experiences. They speak in tongues, laugh uncontrollably, bark like dogs, roar like lions, get slain in the Spirit, and lay prostrate on the floor.
They go forward at evangelistic crusades and feel a warm glow come over them. He will tell you that you can have amazing religious experiences and still betray the Savior. Religious experience is inadequate by itself. If it is possible to profess to be a Christian and to do all of these other things, and yet to be in league with Satan, how can we guard against such evil religion in ourselves?
At the core of evil religion are the lack of genuine conversion, the rejection of Jesus as Lord, and the promotion of selfish desires under the guise of religious commitment. Many different theories have been suggested as to why Judas would do such a thing as betray Jesus. But at the root of whatever motivated Judas was this key factor: He was not a converted man.
This is the key difference between Judas and Peter. Peter failed miserably, denying Jesus at His moment of greatest need, humanly speaking.
Both men felt badly after their failures. But the difference was, Peter was truly converted; Judas was not. We need to understand that true conversion is not a matter of making a decision to follow Christ. A decision cannot save anyone. True conversion has nothing to do with anything that we can do. Rather, conversion is a matter of God imparting spiritual life to a person who is dead in his trespasses and sins Eph 2: Without God imparting life to our dead hearts, we cannot and will not believe in Christ or make a commitment to follow Him Jn 6: True conversion is the mighty power of God through the Gospel and it necessarily changes our hearts cf Ezek Whereas before we were self-willed, now we submit to God.
Before we were proud of our goodness; now we are humbled by our sin. Before we shrugged off or justified our sin; now we confess and mourn over our sin.
When God saves you, He changes your heart. False religion lacks true conversion. By distinguishing this point from the previous one, I am not suggesting that we first get saved and then add lordship sometime later, as a second step. But I separate this point to emphasize something that many who profess Christ as Savior do not realize, namely, that they have never dethroned self and enthroned Christ as Lord.
They came to Christ in hopes that He could do something for them. Maybe they hoped He would fix their marriage or straighten out a rebellious child. Perhaps they hoped that He would make them happy. But their problems have only grown worse. They are disappointed with Christ. They are in danger of turning to false gods for help. Such people may not be converted at all, because they are only using Christ to fulfill self, not denying self to follow Christ Lu 9: Self is still in control.
If Jesus will cooperate and give what self wants, they will follow Jesus. If not, they will turn to whatever makes self happy. This is merely evil religion, using religion to get what you want out of life. Besides, as one of the twelve, he should get a top assignment in the new kingdom.
But when Judas saw Jesus heading toward the cross, he was horrified. He wanted prestige, power, and material comfort. He was using Jesus for his own ends. Or, have I submitted to Jesus as Lord, no matter what the cost? That is true Christianity. Evil religion promotes selfish desires under the guise of religious commitment. The Jewish leaders and Judas were religious men, but their religion was a thin veneer over selfish desires and a means to fulfilling those desires.
There were three areas of selfish desires these men shared in common:. The desire for money and material things. The fact that Judas received money for betraying Jesus confirms what Jn Evil religion does not kill greed. But God always confronts our greed. Covetousness is one of the Ten Commandments. Greed is often linked with idolatry and sexual immorality Eph 5: If you are not consistently confronting your greed, you need to re-examine your faith.
To betray the Son of God for money seems despicable beyond imagination. They profess to be Christians, but their lives are consumed with the pursuit of material things. They cling to their things and are deeply offended if anyone suggests that they give away their things for the cause of Christ. They will even cheat or lie or compromise their morals and their testimony so that they can get ahead.
They are betraying Jesus for money, just as Judas did. The desire for prestige and recognition. They loved the respectful greetings and the chief seats in the synagogue Lu They were overly concerned about what people thought of them Lu They feared the multitude, but they did not fear God. I am inferring this, since Scripture does not directly say, but I think that Judas also may have liked the prestige that came from being in the inner circle with Jesus during the time of His popularity.
By leading them to Jesus, he could assure himself of recognition with the rulers after Jesus was out of the way. We all need to judge our own hearts. We can serve in the church for the recognition and prestige that it brings, rather than out of love for Jesus Christ.
The desire for power and influence. So you play religious politics. You network with those who have influence. You cater to the rich and famous. You use guile and manipulation to get ahead in the religious world. The Jewish religious leaders played such political games. Jesus threatened their power base. He challenged their greed and corruption. He exposed their selfish motives. But rather than yielding to Him, they decided to get rid of Him. And, Judas was using his inside information for his own ends.
He should have judged his evil desire for power and influence. When I first came to this church, I went out to lunch with the man who was then the regional director for the Southwest Conservative Baptist Association.
They can even profess true religion, yet be in league with Satan. At the core of evil religion are a lack of genuine conversion, the rejection of Christ as Lord, and the promotion of selfish desires under the guise of religious commitment.
How could Judas be glad about striking such a deal? But their happiness was short-lived. Their doom is eternal! The things that make you glad reveal your heart. The things that make God rejoice should make us rejoice. The things that make God grieve, namely sin, should make us grieve cf Lk You have your way to God; I have mine. Graham has also endorsed Robert Schuller who denies the Gospel.
My purpose is not to slam Billy Graham, although he needs someone to confront him. My purpose is to illustrate my main point, that since it is possible to be religious and yet be in league with Satan, we must guard ourselves against evil religion.
At best Graham is extremely undiscerning. At worst, people who hear him say things like that will be kept from true salvation. I hope that none of you are deceived. Do not endorse it. Do not join with it. Make sure that your heart is right before God. Are you trusting in Christ alone for salvation?
Are you judging your sin on the heart level? Are you seeking to please God and walk before Him? If you are, you will avoid the danger of betraying the Son of God for a bag of silver.
These pieces were shekels of the sanctuary, of standard weight, and therefore heavier than the ordinary shekel. See on Matthew Reckoning the Jerusalem shekel at seventy-two cents, the sum would be twenty-one dollars and sixty cents. This was the price which, by the Mosaic law, a man was condemned to pay if his ox should gore a servant Exodus Our Lord, the sacrifice for men, was paid for out of the temple-money, destined for the purchase of sacrifices.
He who "took on him the form of a servant" was sold at the legal price of a slave. They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. There is a dramatic difference in the way Jesus and Judas responded to their personal encounters with the devil. O, how great is every believer's need to be continually filled with the Spirit of Jesus Eph 5: So on one hand Satan surely shot fiery missiles into the mind of Judas cf Eph 6: He is not merely demon possessed but Satan possessed.
He succeeds at that. Under Roman law, a Roman cohort could not be released to make an arrest unless someone first appears before the Roman governor with an accusation of a crime punishable under Roman law.
Judas was the witness to appear before Pontius Pilate in order to release the cohort. Also under Roman law Judas would have served as a prosecuting witness at the Roman trial, a role he failed to accomplish.
He would not be needed for a Jewish trial. Here we see the sovereign will of the Lord God's " predetermined plan " Acts 2: So in this sense, Satan, Judas and the evil leaders "played into" God's "predetermined plan. God grant us grace to rest in this truth in Christ. A T Robertson says the strategos were "Leaders of the temple guards Acts 4: This is the only place in the Acts where Luke applies the term to the rulers of a city.
Luke does not record Judas' request of the Jewish leaders which was how much to kill the King? And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. Luke uses paradidomi repeatedly to describe Judas' betrayal - Luke 9: Some have tried to put him in a better light by suggesting, for example, that he was trying to get Jesus into a position where he would have to exercise his power and bring in the kingdom.
Setting aside the not unimportant consideration that this would align Judas with Satan in the temptation narrative, all such attempts are speculation. There is no foundation for them in the texts. While we cannot know with certainty all of the motives of Judas there is ample evidence that love of money played an important role in catalyzing his betrayal of Jesus - Ryle writes "We see, thirdly, in these verses, the enormous power of the love of money.
He was fond of money. But he had either forgotten it, or given it no heed. Covetousness was the rock on which he made shipwreck. Covetousness was the ruin of his soul. We need not wonder that St. The history of the church is full of mournful proofs, that it is one of the choicest weapons of Satan for corrupting and spoiling professors of religion.
Gehazi, Ananias and Sapphira are names which naturally occur to our minds. But of all proofs, there is none so melancholy as the one before us. For money a chosen apostle sold the best and most loving of Masters! For money Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ! Let us watch and pray against the love of money. It is a subtle disease, and often far nearer to us than we suppose. A poor man is just as liable to it as a rich man. It is possible to love money without having it, and it is possible to have it without loving it.
Of course we would be remiss to not give Satan his due, for his entrance into Judas undoubtedly catalyzed the evil thoughts that had already begin to sprout in Judas' mine. And of course if Judas needed a little help with deception, who better that the great Deceiver himself! Of course as is almost always the case the deceiver Judas becomes the one who is deceived cf 2 Ti 3: As Solomon wisely asked " Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?
Dealing with the devil is dangerous! One other note is that the great Deceiver himself was also deceived, for in helping to bring about the death of the Lamb of God on the Cross, Satan guaranteed his own defeat cf Heb 2: An affection, a desire, takes hold of your heart that is more important to you than God is.
And Luke tells us what it was for Judas. What does he say? There was an inordinate desire in his heart for money. And then if you go to Matthew What will you give me for it? Guess what Judas had been doing. For three years, as the holder of the purse, as the treasurer of the disciples, he had been stealing.
Now it's very interesting, the gospels don't go into a lot of explanation about why Judas did what he did, except to say this man's heart had been taken hold of by money. Now that ought to make us tremble. You know with men it's usually sex or money or power that gets them or some combination or all three, but it's an inordinate desire, it's an affection, it's a yearning that becomes stronger in us than our yearning for God.
That's what leads to apostasy, the falling away from a profession. I am walking around with a guy who doesn't even own a house. I've spent three years wandering around with Him all over Palestine. No, I don't have an inordinate love of money.
His heart cared about money more than he loved and trusted in Jesus. I love what J. And I've seen both kinds of people in my life. I've known people with just huge amounts of money that did not love it. They were generous, they were modest. And I've known people that didn't have any money at all and that's all they could think about.
Well there's a warning here. May God make us all aware of what the affections are of this world that have gotten into our hearts that are trying to pull us away from Him.
This was almost too good to believe and so they were filed with joy, as BDAG says "in a state of happiness and well-being" O, the deceitfulness of sin to make one feel "happy" even while the noose is being placed around the neck!
Beloved, when you can find joy in your sin, your soul is very sick, especially when that sin is to kill the Son of God! The things that make God grieve, namely sin, should make us grieve. Keep in mind that the religious leaders had determined to kill Jesus, but they had not determined to do it during Passover because of the fear of a riot.
Here is where we see the mysterious working of the sovereignty of God, Who so orchestrated events that Jesus the Lamb of God would be crucified as the Passover Lamb and not at some later date. As Guzik says "God would use the wicked works of Judas to further His eternal plan.
Agreed to give him money - They gave Judas 30 pieces of silver, " Blood money " in exchange for the incalculably priceless blood of the Lamb of God, the Redeemer of the world!
Lenski comments that "Judas would do nothing until he had the money paid down. He intended to run no risks in regard to getting his money later on. The priests were shrewd enough to bind the man by paying him at once; he might otherwise fail them. They ran no risk whatsoever, for they had the power to arrest this man at any time.
Judas returned to Jesus with the blood money in his bag. This passage and the specific amount in Mt For fulfillment of verse 13 see Mt One major purpose of the Temple treasury was to purchase sacrifices. The priests did so that day. They purchased the final sacrifice for sin when they paid for Judas to deliver Him up. See to that yourself!
The amount of money the leaders gave Judas was the price of a slave in the Old Testament and a dead one at that! It became a symbol of contempt, and the figure 30 would be avoided much like number 13 is avoided in our country elevators often skip the number Stein adds that "Luke may have mentioned money here to illustrate for his readers how money can destroy a person cf.
To this day, we are still shocked that Judas would perpetrate such a colossal crime for such a paltry sum. But it is often shocking what people will do for money. There is a notable example in the publication of the Gospel of Judas.
The Swiss dealer who sold this false gospel to the National Geographic Society for one and a half million dollars—a woman named Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos—is a known felon who has trafficked in stolen antiquities. In order to avoid doing jail time, she betrayed one of her co-conspirators—a former director of the Getty Museum.
The Los Angeles Times had this to say about the irony of her situation: When we refuse to be content with our financial situation—whether we happen to be rich or poor—we open the door to fatal temptation.
Once we decide that we want something more than we already have, we start thinking about ways to get it. The more that desire grows, the more tempted we are to get what we want in ways that do not please God or depend on his providence. Are you content with what you have, or has your mind been playing around with ways to get richer?
Are there any ways you are compromising your integrity for financial gain? The reason the Bible reveals that Judas had a profit motive is not to stigmatize him, but to show how ordinary his temptation was. Judas did it for the money, which is exactly the reason why a lot of people do a lot of the wrong things they do. Unfortunately, there is more than a little bit of the betrayer in all of us.
Like Judas, we have had the extraordinary spiritual privilege of seeing the person and work of Jesus for ourselves. We have professed our faith in Christ and started to follow him, as Judas did. We have heard the preaching of his gospel, and we know something of his divine power. Yet even a temptation as simple as the love of money might lead us into a deep betrayal of the Lord we say that we worship.
Reformed Expository Commentary - Luke. He cannot possess you, but he can influence you to do his work and hurt the work of Christ. Christians gripped with greed, gossip, hate, bitterness, jealousy, carnality, apathy, or immorality can become pawns of Satan. In fact, it was Paul who warned us about letting Satan get a foothold in our lives.
The phrase "get an advantage of us" is from the word pleonekteo which means "to overreach and be able to grab something, to be superior, to have more of us.
When Satan gets control of us, that's when we get into trouble. So he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them - The bargain was promptly struck. Mark says they "promised to give him money" suggesting that the payment would be made on completion of the dirty deed. In any event, it was enough to motivate the greed of Judas to begin seeking how to betray the One Who had always been faithful to him!
John noted the insecurity of the Jewish religious leaders who conferred in the high council or Sanhedrin and concluded: The imperfect tense means over and over Judas was watching for a convenient time to betray Jesus. Robertson says "Judas went at his business and stuck to it. A good opportunity for a bad deed! On face value, there is nothing good about Judas' treachery and betrayal of Jesus. Recall that in Luke 4: He claimed that he knew enough of the habits of Jesus to enable them to catch him "in the absence of the multitude" Luke To betray hand over paradidomi means to give over to the power of another and is used five times in Luke 22 Lk Luke alone of the synoptic accounts adds this detail.
This was crucial lest a riot break out thus was undoubtedly a stipulation of the Jewish leaders. It had to be in secret! Are you on "high alert" dear follower of Christ when the sun goes down or when you find yourself alone with only God watching what you're watching?
Stein comments that "Once again Luke mentioned the positive attitude of the crowd toward Jesus cf. My view is that the five passages in John Jn The Passover lamb was slain on the afternoon of 14 Nisan and the meal eaten at sunset the beginning of 15 Nisan. According to this view Jesus ate the Passover meal at the regular time and died on the cross the afternoon of 15 Nisan.
See John MacArthur's explanation below. This is his seventh meal scene; it is also one of his most dramatic see Luke 5: At the dinner table friends can enjoy fellowship and reflect on events. Such an intimate occasion is the setting for Jesus' final words to his disciples. Added to the intimacy of the scene is its timing.
A Passover meal is being celebrated vv. During the celebration of God's saving of Israel, Jesus will discuss his sacrifice on behalf of his disciples. It will be a meal to remember, not only because this event forms the basis of the Lord's Supper but also because Jesus predicts a betrayal, defines true leadership, promises authority to the eleven, predicts Peter's failure and warns of coming rejection.
Even as he faces death, Jesus serves by preparing others for their task. The First Passover set the captives free from Egypt. The Last Passover the ultimate Passover sets the slaves free from sin. Sacrificed - The lamb to be sacrificed was selected on the 10th day of the month Nisan Ex The Passover feast itself did not begin until sunset. Now we come to the difficult part -- There is no question that the Last Supper of Jesus with His disciples on Thursday evening was also a Passover meal Mt. And, indeed, much human effort over the millennia has been directed toward solving, mitigating or flat out denying the essential truth of the meaninglessness of life apart from God see section IV below.
Indeed, mankind has made a science of discovering interesting amusements and diversions to try and take the sting out of life — in vain. For the sin we have inherited from Adam guarantees that the sting of death will continue to loom large for all who ever choose to take a sober, realistic look at the true dynamics of life 1Cor. Oh the ineffable wisdom of God's judgment upon Adam and Eve! Giving them pain and toil in addition to an ultimate physical death was the best possible encouragement to look beyond this life for solutions.
The promise of the woman's Seed Christ and the sacrifice for sin He would provide foreshadowed in the coats of skin were eagerly received and believed, at least in part because the contrast of the good life in Eden with the complete futility and hardship of life outside was so stark. God has not left us as orphans in this cruel world.
He has made provision for our complete restoration to Himself through faith in the One who died for us, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The hardships of this life, and the essential pointlessness of it apart from God, are, in truth, a part of His grace, for they lovingly and effectively divert our gaze from the bitter life around us — if only for a brief, necessary moment — that we might seek something better.
Examined from the point of view of mortality, life apart from God is futile, pointless, and vain. Death destroys all progress, all accomplishment, all wealth. And no amount of progress, accomplishment or wealth can ward off death.
Furthermore, as the days lengthen, all remembrance of the dead is eventually extinguished, so that the myth of "living on" in the memories of men, or in the "collective consciousness of the human experience" is pure gossamer, a fantasy that dissolves with the slightest touch. Not that it would or could provide any comfort for the dead if they were to be remembered for generations to come — for all the world to see, by the world's own empirical standard, their lamp has gone out and they are no more:.
Anyone who is among the living has hope — even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. Whatever shred of remembrance there is for the dead, it benefits them not a whit. Funerals and memorials are for the living.
Life for the living, moreover, when examined from this same point of view i. For there is no truly compelling purpose for all the effort that goes on under the sun. All Man's labors are ultimately to put food in his mouth, but that mouth can never be filled nor its appetite satisfied Eccl.
Whatever men strive for, enduring toil and pain, will not satisfy — only the unattained and the unattainable are truly attractive. And even they turn to dust before the eyes if the gaze is prolonged but a moment.
If money is the object of desire, there will never be enough of it; if wealth is the objective, there is never enough to satisfy Eccl. If you hoard wealth, it is useless to you; if you spend it for your enjoyment, you no longer possess it Eccl. And if through toil and pain and effort wealth is achieved, it vexes the sleep of the rich, while the laborer sleeps sweetly after a simple meal Eccl. Toil and pain and effort — the new calculus of life after Eden demands it.
Without such sweat and labor we would not eat. But no matter how long and hard and successful the work, it cannot ward off death forever, nor can it even provide lasting satisfaction.
In light of the ultimate futility of life, both taken as a whole and viewed in terms of the pointlessness of effort beyond the bare necessity of survival, it is understandable that mankind has historically devoted itself to the principle of diversion, a principle that explains almost all human behavior of a non-spiritual nature:.
Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die. The secular conclusion above presented by Paul as a perfectly logical modus operandi in the absence of any hope of eternal life is a succinct way of stating the principle.
If death be inevitable, and if life be an essentially dull and pointless continuum of toil and pain, what better way to "get through" than to devote oneself to diversions of one sort or another.
Work and accomplishment can serve effectively in this capacity as well. Anything that distracts from the overall vanity of life fulfills the diversion principle. Between birth and death, we human beings have nothing but time, time which must be served on this earth under the Genesis curse.
We fill the time with work, with relationships, and with various pleasures and pursuits. We fill the time, we waste the time, we strive desperately not to be at loose ends with our time, lest the realization of life's vanity dawn and bear heavily down upon us. To the extent that the effort produced by our time-filling, time-wasting activities is directed at all, it is inevitably directed toward the impossible goal of making ourselves happy whether directly or indirectly.
Whether a man toils a lifetime in the depths of the earth searching for treasure, or spends his days at the corner pub, happiness is the ultimate objective, and who can say which man is the greater fool? In the latter case, happiness stops almost instantaneously with "last call"; in the former, great success will only bring an end to the diversion of toil and bring on the realization that riches do not produce happiness dispelling the illusion that motivated the distracting toil in the first place.
Do we not enjoy our pleasures? Much of human ingenuity since Man's expulsion from the garden has been devoted to the science of amusement. And in our modern western world of high technology and super-abundance, pleasures and diversions are available on a scale never imagined millennia ago. Never before has there been so much prosperity, and never has there been so much depression.
The more we human beings have pursued happiness, the more unhappy we have become. The harder we have toiled for it, the more easily it has eluded us.
The less pressing the necessities of life have become, the more despondent we have become. For the toil of work, the Genesis curse, is the one thing that is capable of effectively distracting us from the grinding realization that life is pointless. Work alone along with the taking in of sustenance which work makes possible is the one necessary element in life, and so provides a satisfying distraction unmatched by all other pursuits of happiness:.
Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him — for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy lit. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. But as the last verse above indicates, work too is essentially a diversion.
Challenging, time-consuming, satisfying, work distracts the mind from reflection about the futility of life. The days pass productively if pointlessly so that the issue of vanity and futility never weighs heavily upon the heart. Without God then, the best mankind can hope for during these meaningless days under the sun is a challenging profession that occupies the energies, provides creature comforts, and a state of mind oblivious to the logic of mortality.
The best that one can hope for, therefore, is to be like the animals, who pursue and enjoy sustenance and creature comforts, without being conscious of the approach of death:. I also thought, "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other.
All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. All go to the same place; all come from dust and to dust all return.
Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth? For who can bring him to see what will happen after him? From the Christian point of view, life is indeed tremendously significant.
Only in life can we choose to follow Jesus Christ. And in the matchless grace and wisdom of God, the very vanity of life turns us to God by removing all other solutions; only in Him is there meaning and truth.
As Christians, it is all the more important for us to understand and appreciate the vanity of life, any aspect of life, which is not related to God. As Christians, we have come to God through Jesus Christ; we have as our mission the responsibility of growing in Him every day, and of helping others to turn to Christ and do likewise.
How important it is for us who have recognized the pointlessness of secular life and have opted to follow Jesus instead of the desires which the world esteems , how important it is for us not to "return to Egypt in our hearts" Acts 7: This life is a desert which must be crossed, but on the other side is a land flowing with milk and honey, a land where our Lord Himself dwells.
On our journey there, there will be trials and tribulations 2Tim. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you". It is important for us as Christians to maintain our sense of proportion, our orientation, our true priorities, given that we affirm our heavenly citizenship to be more valuable to us than all worldly wealth:.
But whatever I had gained [in my former godless life], compared to Christ I have come to consider these things as losses. Indeed, I consider everything to be a loss compared to the surpassing importance of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of everything, and consider [everything I have lost] as garbage, compared to gaining Christ, and being found in Him — not having a personal righteousness [developed] through [following] the [Mosaic] law — but having that righteousness [that comes] through faith in Christ, that righteousness [that comes] from God based on faith.
As Christians, we still live here in the devil's world. Our Lord has a purpose for leaving us here, and was entirely cognizant of the dangers to our spiritual health here on earth, dangers which we continue to face every day Jn. Even as we make our way through the world, it is critical that we maintain our Christian orientation and momentum, and not return to the values, the priorities, the lusts and desires which the world exalts in place of God Rom.
In order to survive in the world, Christians too need to work and eat legitimate sources of secular pleasure and satisfaction ; Christians are not enjoined from family relationships, or indeed from many potentially non-sinful activities in which the world engages for relaxation and entertainment; but Christians do need to recognize the fleeting and inconsequential nature of any and all activities not directly related to their primary relationship, their membership in the family of God the Father through faith in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
The world, especially the modern, western world, is full of distractions that have the potential of becoming obstacles to our spiritual progress, idols, in effect, that may harm our relationship with God. Satan has incorporated into his system of world rulership as many material distractions as possible see section IV below for details. Affluence, the increase and spread of wealth, communication and technology are factors which, from one point of view, are very beneficial to the devil's control of mankind.
For one thing, fear is a major element in Satan's manipulation of humanity, and to the extent that men enjoy and rely on such things for their happiness and security, to that degree the fear of losing them produces a sort of bondage which the devil is quick to exploit cf. In order to prevent our enslavement to the delights of this world as well as to its necessities , an area Satan knows only too well how to manipulate against us, we need to have a full and sober appreciation of what the world really is.
We need to be very aware of the world's essential vanity and of the pointlessness of its distractions and diversions.
We need to be able to keep the pressures and exigencies of life as well as its pleasures and delights in proper perspective. God is what is important in this world, and He will never abandon us. Knowing Him and serving Him is why we are here. Everything else is mere context. We are neither asked nor commanded to get through life without taking any joy or pleasure in worldly things.
And we certainly will not pass through the human experience without worldly pressures and problems especially as Christians. But it is all these largely extraneous matters which we must compartmentalize, and not God. We dare not put God "in a box", giving priority to everything the world sees as important but which from the Christian point of view is ultimately inconsequential , and neglecting the One who made us, who bought us, and whom we claim is our Master.
Whenever we allow the "weeds" of life to grow high, and fail to tend our faith, we endanger our spiritual growth. Necessary weeds, good weeds, bad weeds, whatever blocks out the sunlight of God's truth, must be kept cut back if we are to fulfill the mission God has given us cf.
Ironically, believers have a tendency to do better spiritually in times of severe testing than in times of ease and plenty cf. One "weed" which can be particularly dangerous to the Christian perspective is the prosperity weed. In these last days it is especially important for Christians to avoid a pair of assumptions which are equally dangerous:.
God does provide material blessings, occasionally of an exceptional nature. He did bless Abraham and David with affluence, for example, though John the baptist and our Lord certainly did not live lives of material luxury.
It is well to consider that in the history of the world, many unbelievers have experienced exceptional material wealth. It would be a mistake, therefore, to assume that affluence is any indication of spiritual maturity. To make but one further point on this subject, we who are blessed to live in this country and consequently enjoy a higher material standard of living than most of the rest of the world are not automatically "better" Christians than our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world where life is harder in this respect.
In fact, the opposite effect is certainly not without precedent, that is, the spiritually mature encountering greater testing on this score e. Morbid over-emphasis on material prosperity has always been an occupational hazard of the human race in general, and, the closer we come to the end of history, the more we can expect this issue to increase as a threat to Christian spiritual growth. During this last era of the Church, the Laodicean era, there is destined to be an ever increasing tendency toward equating wealth and affluence with spiritual success Rev.
God is our source of all our blessing, material prosperity included. This is true for many reasons, not the least of which is an all too natural tendency to become complacent in the Christian walk, assuming spiritual maturity on the basis of material prosperity: I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold.
Would that you were cold or hot. But as it is, since you are tepid, and neither hot nor cold, I am on the point of vomiting you out of my mouth. For you say [to yourself], "I am rich, and have become wealthy and have no need [of anything]!
So my advice to you is to buy gold from Me that has been refined in the fire so that you may become rich , and white clothing so that you may be [properly] dressed and not have your shameful nakedness exposed , and medicinal salve to treat your eyes so that you may see [the situation accurately].
After all, the idea that the world is a wonderful place, filled with all sorts of delights which we have been put here expressly for the purpose of enjoying, is decidedly un-Christian.
This is not the garden of Eden, but rather the devil's world at present , and we need to order our perspective and our priorities accordingly. Material prosperity, even when it truly originates from God, is a far cry from true spiritual wealth, and can very easily induce a false sense of spiritual security.
As Christians, we need to take care to esteem the genuine "gold" our Lord and Master dispenses, that is, His word of truth, and remember that excessive concentration on the ephemeral gold of this world to the detriment of the truth of the word of God upon which our relationship with Him is based is both perilous and ultimately pointless.
The issue is all the more significant in our materially prosperous world here in the last days of the Church, for prosperity in the realm of material possessions which are admittedly essential for human life often has the undesirable side-effect of breeding spiritual complacency. Affluence, however, is not spirituality. And if success in the material realm should cause us to neglect our commitment to God and to His Word, it is well worth asking whether such prosperity has indeed been a blessing.
Untroubled lives of ease in the midst of abundance are neither the norm nor the objective of the Christian life. The closer we walk with God, the more we can expect that walk to be opposed by Satan and his angels:. Indeed, all who are willing to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Satanic opposition, then, should be expected by growing believers.
Even when the advancing believer finds himself in the midst of material prosperity, it should not be assumed that the devil will allow that person's Christian walk to go unchallenged:. Jesus said, "In truth, I tell you, there is no one who has left behind a house or brothers or sisters or a mother or a father or children or fields for My sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred-fold more in this present time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children — with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life.
Thus, Christian maturity and continued spiritual progress may or may not be accompanied by affluence although the passage above refers to the "affluence" of being part of Christ's Church , but they will certainly be accompanied by trials and tribulations:. Beloved, don't be amazed at the fiery ordeal of testing you are now undergoing, as if something out of the ordinary were happening to you.
But to the degree that you are [truly] participating in Christ's sufferings, be joyful about it, so that at His glorious revelation, you may also rejoice with great gladness. Opposition from the world to our spiritual progress is the rule, not the exception, and it is largely through our successful response to such tests that we come to appreciate the truth of the divine point of view about the world — that its rewards and so also their loss or absence are of small consequence in comparison to the rewards of eternity, blessings that will never fade and will never be taken away:.
Brothers, when you are being beset with all manner of trials, take pains to be joyful. For you should keep in mind that this testing of your faith develops perseverance.
So let your perseverance develop fully, that you may become fully mature and entitled to a full reward, having been found lacking in no respect. Thus material prosperity in this present world is ultimately of little true account to those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. For in our trials and tribulations, whether we have material abundance or no, we have chosen to put our Master's priorities first; we have chosen God and His Son over the material prosperity which this world proclaims as its god:.
No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or cling to the one and despise the other. No one can serve God and Mammon. For the unbeliever, the issue is likewise a simple one. Having rejected God and often even having denied His existence , he is forced to place an incorrect emphasis and inordinate importance on this present world.
Such blindness, such self-delusion, such suppression of the truth about God necessarily elevates the world and its present ruler into the realm of "god" in the unbeliever's eyes:.
God's wrath is about to be revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness — on men who suppress the truth [about God] in their unrighteousness. For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious. His nature, though invisible, is nevertheless plainly apparent, and has been since His foundation of the world, for it may be clearly inferred from this creation of His — [this is true of] both His eternal power and His divinity — so that they are without any excuse: Instead, they gave themselves over to [the] vanity [of this world] in their speculations, and their senseless hearts were filled with darkness.
Claiming to be wise, they became foolish, for they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for images and likenesses of corruptible men, of birds and beasts and reptiles. This is the point at which spiritual degeneration begins for the unbeliever. As the passage above makes plain, everyone comes to appreciate the existence of the Creator, in most cases early in life; the fact that the majority of people in the history of the world have gone on to reject Him, replace Him in their thinking with other objects, and deny His existence altogether, does not change the truth of this principle.
Once God has been rejected, some substitute will of necessity be accepted in place of the ultimate truth 2Pet. This process of substituting worldly concerns for God is the inevitable path of unbelief.
And it is important for Christians to have no illusions in this regard, lest we share in any way in the downward spiral that comes from choosing the vanity of this world over our relationship with God in Christ:.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you no longer live as the gentiles do in futility of mind, darkened in thought and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts.
Having lost all sensitivity [to God's truth], they have given themselves over to sensuality to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. Hardness, blindness and self-delusion are inevitable results of rejecting truth and turning away from God. We have it from Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived apart from our Lord that no avenue of human activity, no amount of success or accumulation of wealth can ever bring true happiness, for all such "chasing after the wind" is ultimately pointless Eccl.
The great irony of the unbeliever's search for pseudo-happiness it that once God has been rejected, life really is pointless and futile, even from the standpoint of true, spiritual happiness which has been rejected along with God. Contradictorily, however, this "guaranteed futility" only serves to intensify the unbeliever's struggle to achieve happiness and security in this ephemeral life cf.
There is some twisted logic in the vain pursuit of temporal security and pseudo-happiness that characterizes the unbeliever's lifestyle. For one thing, all the effort and striving involved in attempting to achieve these two illusory objectives do serve to cloud the issue of mortality.
The question of death, after all, is one which is very uncomfortable for any unbeliever to inspect too closely or too often apart from the aid of one of the many lies about death which the devil has spread over the millennia; see section IV below.
Excessive introspection of the mortality issue though justified by the circumstances of life for those who have not found resolution in Christ is just too much for most people to take. And so it is that although our extremely limited life-span and the exceptionally fragile nature of our existence is without a doubt the most pressing concern for any given individual, it is largely and foolishly ignored.
Death is an uncomfortable topic, especially for those who have not found eternal life in Jesus Christ. But death makes a mockery of all for which the unbeliever strives. What good are achievements, what good is wealth, if in a few short days, or months, or years, death rips you away from them?
Even assuming a stable world also an uncertain proposition , nothing can last because we don't last. It is sadly ironic that the madcap rush for wealth, fame, glory, pleasure and possessions often serves to distract the unbeliever from the central truth of life outside of the garden: The godless pursuit of pseudo-happiness and false security can never take the sting out of death, but for all those who are manically involved in it, it does provide distraction from death's approach.
The unbeliever, after all, has every reason to fear death, more so than he may know. We should not be surprised, therefore, to find him engaged in a frantic cycle of activity, accepting any and all substitutes to blind his eyes to the reality of death's grim approach. The unbeliever, in short, although mortal, behaves as if he were immortal , and that is the essence of his folly.
He stores up wealth, as if he will be around to enjoy it forever; he seeks glory, fame and achievement, as if it will not fade with his impending demise; he indulges himself in all pleasures, as if the grave will not put his enjoyment of them to an end.
The Bible counsels the unbeliever to enjoy his work and daily bread as necessities which are also legitimate pleasures Eccl. The best that the unbeliever can hope for, therefore, is to lack self-consciousness in the area of mortality, much in the same way as the animals, hunting for food and enjoying what God has provided, never giving a thought to the day of death Eccl.
But for all those who seek after solutions apart from God, the devil has a lie that, like some super-addictive drug, grasps its victims tight and seldom releases its prey.
The devil's lie is that happiness can be achieved in this world apart from God, and that, with enough effort, security can be vouchsafed for such gains.
Sufficient space has already been expended to establish the principle that death makes a complete mockery of this lie from the outset for any and all who are willing to make a truthful appraisal of the essential calculus of human life in this world outside of Eden. This fact, however, has not prevented a majority of humanity from falling into the pseudo-happiness, pseudo-security trap. Having rejected the truth of God, most people in the history of the world have gladly embraced the myth of true happiness capable of enduring.
The exact incarnation of this " myth-happiness " takes many forms, of course, and is sought in a multitude of ways, but, inevitably, it is never really achieved. It always remains vaguely future, no matter how wealthy, or famous, or successful, or powerful a person manages to become in this short life: The fact that human beings who have sought happiness apart from God seldom if ever seem to wake up to this progression of the never-ending finish line for a happiness they can never seem to catch is a measure of just how powerful the narcotic of myth-happiness truly is.
The reality, however, is that a personal Eden cannot be achieved here in the devil's world. There is, as discussed above, a measure of satisfaction and security to be had in the simple, non-self-conscious approach to life of involving oneself in one's work, ones's family, and one's daily sustenance Ps.
For believers who put God at the center of their lives, of course, there is as we have seen and will revisit below abundant joy to be had in a life lived in the light of Christ, in anticipation of the glories of eternity Phil. But from the purely secular perspective, all joy must of necessity be related to this life alone, the godless myth that has ever enslaved the world.
This heathen quest for "myth-happiness", that is, satisfaction in life apart from God, is vain for two primary reasons: Beyond the simple, God-given pleasures of family, labor and food, the attainment of successive plateaus of wealth, fame, power or pleasure may entertain for a brief moment, but like a feast to a man with a full belly, they quickly lose their appeal, thus spurring the myth-happiness faithful on to the next level of dubious achievement as the cycle progresses on its never-ending way: Fame fades; no one can continue to capture the public eye forever; all glory is fleeting, and death eventually reduces all its remnants to dust Eccl.
Pleasure sates easily; no experience can be savored forever, like tears in a bottle; no experience can be exactly repeated or guaranteed for the future; and though one were able to push enjoyment into areas never before experienced, even these would eventually mock the practitioner, when in the end satisfaction drains away, leaving death to bring an end to pleasure altogether.
Power is inevitably circumscribed by human limitations among other things: Wealth likewise can never be sufficient; the more one has, the more obvious it becomes to the possessor that, after an initial flush, all the fame, pleasure and power it can provide do not ultimately produce lasting satisfaction; the more wealth, that universal secular solution which myth-happiness proclaims will certainly bring joy, the more frustration when joy is not achieved; and wealth brings its own troubles Prov.
The second point mentioned above, that is, the inability of the secular man to attain security for himself, his accomplishments and his possessions, is equally trenchant, for it drives home the essential fact of the futility of myth-happiness, even to the degree that it may be thought to be attained. Fame must be added to or it fades, yielding the irony that achieving a pinnacle of notoriety merely sets one up for a fall: The same is true of power and wealth — there is nothing a man can do to ensure that either will endure with absolute certainty.
A brief survey of the history of the world will show definitively that wars, depressions, revolutions, climactic catastrophes to name but a few of the more prominent and general sources of instability have deposed many a ruler and impoverished many a millionaire. Do not strive to be rich. Put it out of your mind. For as soon as your eye lights upon [wealth], it is no more. Indeed, it will surely sprout wings for itself and fly off to the heavens like an eagle.
Whoever loves money, never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. The sleep of the laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich man permits him no sleep. I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: A man's riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat. Pleasure is even more ephemeral than wealth. Like mist, it cannot quite be grasped and held, and so the ability to repeat it is virtually impossible to ensure, even in the near term.
That is not to say, of course, that mankind has not devoted an inordinate amount of its collective energies to devising ever more exotic and entertaining diversions, but this is in itself an argument for the biblical position that earthly pleasures again, beyond the simple, godly ones cannot really provide true happiness or real inner satisfaction.
For if they could, one would think that our present, western world should be the happiest in history, inasmuch as devising and marketing entertainment has never before been carried to the heights we are now experiencing. But the reality is that we have also never before seen so many people so completely bankrupt in the spirit, so completely unsatisfied just as soon as the entertainment of the moment has passed.
There has never been a place or a time characterized by so much depression, so many suicides, or such an intensive rush to push this pseudo-enjoyment of the world to ever new extremes — certainly not because people are building happiness upon irrepressible happiness, but rather because every successive round of invention leaves them just as empty the last.
All man's efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied. And whether it is pleasure or wealth or power or fame or any other avenue of pursuing happiness in this life apart from the truth of Jesus Christ, death ultimately will mock them all:. Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. For all his wealth, a man will not abide [on earth forever].
He is like the beasts that perish. Without the confident hope of life after death, what is the point of living long and prospering when afterwards one dies?
Can a long life and the experience of material prosperity really soften the blow of death for the unbeliever when it finally arrives? It may do so for the living who feel less grief for someone who has died peacefully in a good old age and in a prosperous state, but does past experience, however blissful, really make the loss of everything an easier pill to swallow?
While the average unbeliever generally makes a habit of ignoring the possibility of his own death until it comes suddenly upon him , one thing is sure: Why should I fear in troubling times, when I am surrounded by the wickedness of my deceivers, those who trust in their wealth and boast in their great riches?
Surely, no one can redeem a man [from God's hand], no one can pay a ransom to God for him. For the redemption price of a life is too precious for Him to relent forever, that one should live on forever, and not see corruption.
But while human beings are only too willing to accept the idea of the mortality of others , a sense of personal immortality, or, more correctly put, an ability to procrastinate mentally until the very moment of death, is the rule when one examines one's own life. Just as "somebody else's troubles" cause little anxiety, so the eventuality of death is always in another man's court, until the actual termination of life at which point contemplation and re-examination is, needless to say, too late.
Great wealth may help to postpone the inevitable at least people seem to think that it can , but no matter what fastidious care we are able to take of our lives and persons, the delay achieved will ever be laughably insignificant Matt.
So despite the fact that our ephemeral nature is the prime lesson of life, human beings persist in running after wealth and accomplishments until some mythic, personal Eden be achieved, ever hedging in their gains and themselves, as if the brief moment would or could last forever. But in the absence of the hope of the resurrection, the hope of myth-happiness achieved and preserved continues to be the holy-grail of the unbelieving life, that, and the equally vain hope that grasping the brass ring for a few short moments will somehow take away the sting of death.
Attaining the goals and desires the world esteems may act as a narcotic to the painful and ephemeral nature of life, but, like all narcotics, striving and accomplishment have an even more significant dark side. As wealth and achievement grow, so does worry cf.
Worldly progress is, because of the nature of the world, vulnerable to loss, and even when very carefully and intelligently hedged, will never lose its essential fragility.
This factor makes all who have bought into the struggle for myth-happiness especially those who have experienced some measure of success even more sensitive to the possibility of loss. I love modern technology. But what pitfalls lie in wait for the unwary! Something that may destroy a friendship and ruin the rest of your life. Not that you can move them because your mouth has suddenly become so dry that you need to use your fingers to separate them from your teeth.
Your entire body feels as if someone has swiftly and skilfully removed all the bones. It first happened when a very sweet new friend had offered me a picture by Anna Kavan, an author that I was particularly keen on. He was coming round with it at 6. So I emailed the other appointment. There was no prospect of him dropping dead. He was barely older than me. He was so gracious about it, and faintly amused or pretended to be that, when a similar thing happened to me, the other way round, how could I not behave in the same way?
Bit of a blow, of course, but remembering how decently my friend had behaved over the email about the picture, I decided to be gracious in my turn.
The latest horror was of a slightly different ilk. My neighbour across the road, just back from a tour of Africa, came racing over the road in a panic. As I was creeping out, I bumped into one of their teenage children, returning from a party. When I announce I am going to drive miles to do my show, everyone puts their heads in their hands. The show was scheduled for Sunday evening, so I boarded the train at Euston at lunchtime and settled in with my crossword puzzle for a few hours of happy immobility.
Not for long, however. We apologise for any inconvenience. The passenger opposite me shook his head. It appears that despite changes in shopping laws and the fact that Sundays are just as buzzy as any other day, suicides still find the ancient Sunday gloom seeping in on the seventh day. Hence more suicides on Sunday. Maybe they were, but where? Try Bus Stop B. On and on it went until, after half an hour in the pouring rain, my phone battery running out and the Cockermouth stage manager starting to have kittens, the replacement bus arrived and off we set along the motorway.
But after only twenty minutes came another announcement. We will be drawing in to the hard shoulder so please disembark and climb over the motorway barrier and wait on the verge. Which found us wretched group, huddled in the fading light, as the lorries whizzed by, like a bunch of illegal immigrants dumped by a truck to find our own way home.
I was picked up in the morning by a nice lady from the theatre and delivered to Penrith station where I found the train cancelled. At this point I started crying, but after an hour — and a lot of complaining — found myself in a taxi to Preston.
Disembarking at Preston I asked another Virgin official where the train to London was. Next on Platform 6. Next train platform six, leaves at 3. But you asked me another question to which I do not know the answer. Will you get a seat? Madam, I have no idea whether you will get a seat or not. Do not ask me questions to which I do not know the answer.
Well, I did get a seat and this train was delayed only half an hour. I had a kip on it, exhausted with panic exposure and misery. I used my handbag as a pillow. Just as I was about to catch a taxi home, I realised I had dropped my address book on the train.
Rushing back to the platform I found it had departed. The Lost Property Office declared they had not found an address book for years. And the Virgin telephone number for Lost property told me that its mailbox was full. But I overcame my anxiety recently when a friend pointed me towards a series of Resolutions for When I Become Old written by Swift when he was only When I have people to dinner I would like to read several of these Resolutions out loud before we start to prevent the terrible elderly conversational tramlines that some of my generation seem to have become trapped in.
The first resolution is not to Marry a young Woman. But we must remember those predatory old females who snuck around when we were young, trapping us as they placed be-ringed hands on our knees, hands misshapen with rivers of veins and arthritis fingers.
Do tell me all about yourself! I just wanted to say: Young people can look great in filthy old binbags but the older person with a stain on her skirt or tie looks like a bag lady or a tramp. Swift forgot just one resolution. Not to take centre stage and bang on about a topic to the exclusion of all else.
Only a decree like that from his hero could have made Michael Foot shut up. Perfectly nice, as far as anyone knows, their nuttiness exhibits itself only when they catch your eye in the street. Our particular nutter usually starts off pleasantly enough, commenting on the weather or the state of a local services, but before you can politely escape he then gets down to business. Which is to bore you rigid while terrifying the daylights out of you funny how these people are capable of doing both at the same time by insisting you listen to their conspiracy theories.
Way back it was all about how a man on a grassy knoll had shot JF Kennedy. The next time I met the nutter, he was banging on about fluoride in the drinking water and insisting we drink bottled water or risk having our brains fried.
They call themselves the Bilderberg Group and they are immensely frightening. Some of them, he explained, are not Jewish at all, but actually lizards from outer space who have disguised themselves as human beings. They could only have fallen in the way they did had a bomb or bombs been placed at ground level. Oh, and he said the moon landings had been staged in Pinewood.
I learned, of course, to dodge him whenever I spotted him. That way I managed to avoid him for six months. But he was too clever for me. One day I was sitting at home minding my own business when there was a ring at the bell and there he was. Holograms of armed forces and aeroplanes were being constructed, he told me, and they would soon be released and not to be frightened of them because they would not be real.
And did I know, he added, that the earth is actually hollow? He was waiting for me behind a bush and leapt out as I entered my house. You must have thought I was a complete nutter! They were all put out by the government to frighten us! The motive is excellent, but the result disastrous.
In my case, the bone was trying to help by kindly growing a little spur, a spur that caught on a tendon every time I reached for a mug on the top shelf. I made you this speshul spur! At least that is how I think it works. I may of course be quite wrong and my shoulder surgeon may be reading this with his hand to his forehead in horror at my cack-handed description of this delicate condition and operation.
But back to hospitals. What I hate about them is how they make me feel so, to use current jargon, disempowered. Just to spite them. I declared that it would be impossible for me to sleep with my legs bound in tight elastic stockings.
She said that we would see about that later. Round one to her. With a tense smile she allowed me my nightdress. Round two to me. A hospital bedroom is like a fairground at night. There was a flashing green light from the emergency drug cupboard that lit up the whole rom every second; there was a curious coil of plastic that let off an eerie blue light; the light from the handset glared up at the ceiling, and the door had slots inserted in the window so that nurses could peer in at night.
Swiftly, I covered everything up, and, jamming my discarded hospital nightdress into the top of the bedroom door, managed to construct a curtain to make myself invisible from any prying eyes in the small hours. Just to show them. I am 72 years old. And yet these small victories meant so much to me as I lay there in the darkness, listening to the beeps and shouts from outside my room. To them, I might simply be the old arthritic female patient in Room But really I am, I thought, not just a human being but a seditionist, a traitor and, dammit, something of a revolutionary.
Granny Annexe April Followers of this column will, I hope forgive me for returning to the subject of the charming bank manager who, when I confided to him a couple of months ago that I was going mad, recommended mindfulness. And look at him now. The email he had written to me six months previously featured a photograph underneath his name.
And this picture was of a woman. So I wrote him an email. Who am I coming to see? I would be drummed out of town. If I ever bumped into Grayson Perry at a party he would shun me. Then I thought that it was unlikely that the bank would countenance one of its staff, however justifiably trans, outing one of its clients as a died-in-the wool sexual stick-in-the-mud, so I crossed my fingers. Then I felt even worse.
Essentially we are all just pure souls. Om, and so on. Om and om and om. However, I was nervous as I waited for my eventual appointment at the bank. And no wonder he or she had turned to mindfulness. He or she had been so insecure about his sexuality, that he — or she — had had nowhere to run. His or her family had turfed him out. He or she was alone in the world. But then he appeared. And this time I was certain it was a he. You know how it is. Yes, just human error. It was the bank that had sent him bonkers, not his sexuality.
Then, about fifty years ago, we all got very nervous about black. But then along came a peculiar day called Black Friday. Wisely, I stayed out of the discussion and avoided the word black altogether. Lucky black cats had to be ignored. Had I been so dreadfully profligate that I deserved this frightful demotion? What have I done wrong? I nodded, but fearfully, because I half knew what he was going to say.
He clearly had not read my views on mindfulness. I had an agonising trapped nerve in my neck and an agonising trapped nerve at the base of my spine and despite vast quantities of Valium, di-hydrocodeine and paracetamol, nothing worked. I did daily exercises but the pain persisted.
On top of this I was severely depressed due to various personal problems and a propensity, as they say, to chronic gloom. He called my name but by the time I got to his door — pain made me walk very slowly — it had been slammed shut. He opened the door in a glowering rage.
He looked from me to the woman who was sitting in the chair opposite his desk. On a scale of one to ten could you describe how painful are a your shoulders b your back c your knees and d your feet.
X for physio and Dr. Y for psychological management — CBT, visualisation etc. I came out worse than I went in. Tears were pouring down my cheeks. I know all about CBT and often use it myself. Is it relieving pain they get off on, or is it pain itself? After going home and not going out for a week, unable even to get dressed I felt so despairing, I made an appointment to see a cranial osteopath. From the moment she bestowed on me a dazzling and sympathetic smile, I knew this would be a different experience.
She asked me a few questions, made me lie down, put her hands under my back and declared: Oh, poor old you! You have been in the wars! I came out feeling as if I were dancing on air. All pain had lessened and I could smile at last. It may all be in my mind, but what a difference kindness makes!
When my son was small we had cats, tropical fish, and gerbils. I repressed my natural antipathy to caged animals, and we went up to an industrial estate in the suburbs to buy about 30 large Coke bottles to construct a run for the gerbils all around the walls. Unfortunately, not only did they run around it, but also pooed in it, which meant that the structure had to be dismantled to give it a clean. As this was a major operation, we only did it every three months or so, so the smell was terrible.
Oh, the guilt I used to feel when I left my cat alone at home! He was disturbingly pleased when I returned home. As for dogs, is it really right to pull one along, bound by a neck collar and chain?
There was a recent report that revealed that pet cats feel just the same anxieties as caged lions. They may seem contented and in charge, but actually inside they are gibbering wrecks. Until a few years ago, I always had cats. As we lived upstairs on the top floor of a crescent, he used occasionally to slip out of the window and visit every neighbouring flat along the continuous ledge.
Each morning he sat on the front step, waiting for a little boy who, on his way to school, presented him with a piece of sausage left over from breakfast. We sometimes took him round the block at night on a string, and on one occasion I even discovered him, on opening the lavatory door, sitting on the loo, ears back, and having a very dignified pee. My son promised he would say nothing. When Peter arrived and asked how the cat had lost its tail, my son replied: And yet — another cat?
I certainly never wanted another cat. Taking a break for a lie-down at a dinner party recently with a bad back, a very nice cat came in. She took one look at me, leapt on me, and settled down, staring into my eyes as if we shared a hidden secret he probably was wishing me dead so that she could acquire the house, but no matter. Have you met anyone over the age of ten who, at the beginning of December, starts rubbing their hands with glee and saying: How do I know all this?
Because I have been a prime mover in the anti-Christmas movement. My childhood Christmases were always spent visiting my school, hosted by the headmistress, my great aunt Rene. I remember receiving an improving book about Norman architecture two years running. Another year it was a small volume about Italic Script. If they were lucky, my parents might have been given a tin of Assorted Biscuits. My sour-faced great aunt would preside over the Christmas lunch — consisting of one small chicken between six, accompanied by over-boiled potatoes and tinned peas — with a large jug of water beside her.
There was never any wine or crackers. But having read recently that it is possible to decide to be happy I am planning to have a happy day even if it kills me. But I will not let this get me down. I will put up the decorations, despite the fact that my son has ordered me never to climb a ladder again, and that both arms are so arthritic that I cannot reach up above my head to pin up the garlands.
And if that ends in tears, I shall spend Christmas in hospital, taking up essential beds needed for more deserving cases. I will send out hundreds of cards and inside I shall insert an honest newsletter — describing the retinal detachment that went so wrong, the anticipated operations for new knees and shoulders, the disastrous run at Edinburgh and the plans for euthanasia.
I will buy extremely expensive presents for all my friends and when they look appalled and say: A time for giving! Not me, thank you but that this walking has to consist of no fewer than 10, steps. And as for walking 10, steps a day, I did it recently and I honestly had practically no time for anything else. No time for lunch! No time for supper! I barely had any time to get undressed at night. What is it about walking?
Some of my best friends walk. And, very occasionally, I have enjoyed a long walk over the downs. A friend informs me that I can see so much more when I walk. Some people say they feel relaxed when they walk. With nothing else to distract me, my mind, when walking, is free to roam over the most gruesome thoughts known to man.
Will we be overrun over by immigrants? What if Isis came over and blew up Lincoln Cathedral? And anyway, why am I wasting my time pounding the streets when I could, as my Scottish great-aunt, who was also my headmistress used to say, be doing something really useful? But for no reason at all? Walking is what people do when they have no cars or public transport.
Walking should be avoided, as indulgent as eating plates of cream cakes. And what particularly gets my goat is how smug walkers are. On hearing the unexpected ring on the bell, Dorothy Parker was always reputed to cry: Phone calls are often welcome.
Every time I hear the unexpected knock on the door, my heart sinks. I usually stagger down the stairs, shouting, like a mad old lady: Keep your hair on! I have written in clear letters beside my bell, the words: After arriving at the door, usually gasping from having been summoned from the top of the house, I enquire coldly whether they can read their bibles. They always say yes. Then I point sourly at my sign and say: I always suspect that if you were to lean forward too close to examine their photographs, they might slip the things over your head, like a Thuggee and strange you.
Occasionally, however it is a policeman. Recently one knocked at the door and I turned at once into a welcoming and ingratiating helpful member of the public, bustling him in and offering him a cup of tea.
This time, the building site over the road had been burgled. But it all reminded me of the terrible occasion my father opened the door to a policeman in Kensington.
They said their goodbyes and left. Ten minutes later, there was another ring on the bell. It was a man in grubby jeans and a stained teeshirt, who revealed he was an undercover plain clothes policeman who had stayed behind. If my father would go upstairs and keep watch out of the first floor window, he would go down the basement and check the garden again for the escaped villain.
I imagine these days most little girls would be thrilled if their mum made clothes for them in the latest fashion, encouraged them to wear their skirts short an midriffs bare, and sent their ten-year-old boys to school sporting fake hippy beards. But I found it something of a burden having a fashion icon as a mother.
Like most little girls I wanted to be like all the other little girls, and all the other little girls were wearing dresses with puffed sleeves and smocking in the front, with fitted tweed coats with velvet collars and most of them had an Alice band over their infrequently-washed hair. These days there is nothing more enchanting to my mind than the sight of a little girl in a tam-o-shanter hat over her gamin haircut, a navy blue unwaisted coat, long white socks and patent leather black shoes, preferably standing with a hoop in the Jardins des Tuileries.
But in the middle of smog in the heart of post-war South Kensington, surrounded by other children who look at her like something from outer space? Our battles were constant. Once I demanded, in recompense for some terrible favour my mother was trying to get me to do — probably be photographed for a magazine — to be bought a pair of grey divided shorts. I have to hand it to her — she fulfilled her promise and I can only imagine how much it pained her to see me proudly jumping around in my Aertex shirt and grey shorts and plimsolls, just like all the other little girls.
But those days were rare. Most of the time I was forced to dress as she wanted me to look. Two particular incidents stand out in my mind. Without missing a beat, my mother immediately ran me up a small version of it — dark blue, with a white border grabbing me round the knees — and insisted I wore it for the concert. I was regarded by a freak by the other girls, but all the mums gasped with delight.
The other occasion was when she forced me to walk down the catwalk at the Royal College of Art, where she was Professor of Fashion, holding her hand, both of us wearing identical versions of the same sundress. Thinking I might have got over the horror of the catwalk, I agreed, recently, on a visit to Denbigh, to take part in a Vintage Fashion Show.
It was all for a good cause. The sisters became carers to the parents and realised how stressed carers get, and the show was one of many events put on to raise money to help carers by giving them advice and support. Accompanied, rather oddly, by my friend and host, who was dressed in an original teddy boy suit, with a wig being 75 he has no hair and with the music of the James Bond Theme blaring, we finished the first half and strutted up and down the red carpet.
I thought I could pull it off. I felt like a complete idiot. I became a year-old 8-year-old, shamed with embarrassment. When my name was announced I heard one large Welsh lady say to her friend: Never heard of her! What about you, Carys? But I thought she was dead! When I was a child, my grandmother used to take me to the theatre. Her choice of shows was impeccable. No, she took me to see a string of classic light theatrical productions.
My grandmother had always wanted to go on the stage and she knew what was good. For here, an outing had to be fun and to be fun it had to be professional. For my own part I took my son to see Elvis — a brilliant musical directed by Jack Good and featuring PJ Proby as the later Elvis; we also saw Blues in the Night and a never-ending succession of Ayckbourns, travelling to all corners of the suburbs to catch the latest. The Invisible Man went down brilliantly. But recently a couple of outings hit the buffers.
Who on earth ever thought that Edward Scissorhands would make an interesting ballet? My grandmother took me to see it originally, and then I, of course, took my son to see it.
Recently I went for the third time, taking my older grandson. Before the curtain went down on the first act, the unpleasant Mrs Boyle had just been strangled and my grandson had seized my hand in terror.
During the interval he was on tenterhooks. We drank the drinks cleverly ordered at the bar beforehand. Even this small act seemed, to us, to be magic. Over some Pringles and an ice-cream, we discussed the plot so far. He was convinced the murderer was the owner of the guesthouse. But what about the Major? We went through every character one by one. At the end he was completely astonished at the denouement. Granny will take you when you get older. At dinner recently a guest declared, gloomily: Which they all seem to be doing as they age.
Sometimes I feel I need to make a list on topics banned from my house and get my guests to sign it before they step over the threshold.
And secondly, where do we get by wringing our hands? Anyway, older people have been despairing of younger people since day one. And how they learned nothing at school.
And so, moaningly, on. Young people are far more frightened of death, in my experience, than old people. Their knuckles are white with fear as they contemplate the arrival of the Grim Reaper. They are, rightly, pre-occupied with life and the living of it. Older people are much more realistic. It was Dylan Thomas as a son who wanted his father to go raging against the dying of the light, not Pa Thomas himself.
Anyway, no one had told me this might happen, so when this green liquid started emerging, gushing like something from a Texan oil well, I was, quite naturally, worried.
The colour of the Jolly Green Giant. The colour of The Incredible Hulk. The colour of those blazing green health drinks that you find in Pret called Goodness.
When we arrived, I handed it over to the nurse. And, more importantly, how long have I got to live? She put on some rubber gloves, sensible girl, shielded her eyes from the brightness of the colour, looked extremely anxious, and hurried away with it to get it investigated. I was in the waiting-room, gibbering with fear. After a nail-biting half hour she returned, uttering the immortal words: And then I uttered those also immortal words: And she gave me one of those dumb looks that says: I stumped home and over the next few days everything calmed down and even now I have no idea what the green stuff really was.
But it happened again the other day. Not the green stuff, but another scare. Following retinal surgery, I had to have a further operation to stitch my eye to support the cataract lens that had slipped. It was extremely difficult — for two reasons. Firstly I saw completely different things through each eye — one showed me myself in the room quite normally, and from the other I was viewing myself in the room as if I were a fly on the ceiling, from above. As I looked into the mirror I could see that the reason for this was obvious.
The operated eye had shifted and was now staring, desultorily, at the ceiling. I looked like Quasimodo. I felt faint and breathless. Finally the phone rang and I explained the situation. None of this would have happened of course, had I been warned of the dangers of having cataract surgery at the same time as having with extremely short sight.
Apparently now they tell me these are sure markers for the likelihood of having a retinal detachment. Had I known this, at the first sign of retinal detachment I would have gone to Moorfields far earlier and could have been spared all this Quasimodo stuff in the first place.
Yesterday I dreamed that I had written my Oldie column but sadly it had been processed as an egg — the column had been encrypted somehow into this albumin inside the shell. I was about to bicycle to the Oldie offices carrying this egg when the egg broke all over the bicycle seat. Somehow managing to scrape it up, I got most of it back into the two halves of the shell — but I was worried if, having slid over the bicycle seat with bits still dripping down and hanging from the spokes of the wheels, whether the words, when they were processed the other end, would have got muddled up.
Now who could deny that this was a fairly unusual and bizarre dream? It is almost a short story. This is a dream constructed by a dull person. It is not a five star dream. But my dreams or am I just kidding myself? They are often directed by excellent directors and, if not Oscar-winning, would certainly make good shorts at the Sundance Festival. I think the capacity for dreaming may be inherited. It was old, withered and skeletal. Then he woke up.
And what is interesting is partly the way they can be induced. Larium, the anti-malarial drug that I took on going to South Africa, gave me nightmares of such horror that I would rather have stayed at home and missed seeing the giraffes and elephants and monkeys in a nature reserve than experience them again.
True, I have never made a scientific discovery while dreaming or, indeed, had the verses of a great poem revealed to me in a dream, like Coleridge after a dose of opium. Last week I dreamed I had met the most wonderful man. Unfortunately he was really the man of my dreams. And when my son was small I dreamed that I covered him with kisses one night. As he locked the door of the gate behind us, he commented that my grandson looked rather dirty so was going to give him a bath.
In the background I could see an enormous cauldron of boiling water…. I still remember my first dream. A burglar had come into my room at dawn and I had called for my father.
He had rushed in in his dressing gown, and the burglar rushed out with my father in pursuit. Stay there I did and, looking out of the window I could see my father in the garden, scouring the place for burglars.
Then I felt a tap on my shoulder…. Surely no one in the right minds ever celebrate their 34 th wedding anniversary? And also, surely the celebration of anniversaries was anathema to the upper classes in the days of Downton? But when I pointed this out, my two friends turned on me: My problem is that I am hypersensitive to inaccuracies in films or plays. When, in a production of Rope set in the late twenties, the actors turned on a fake gas fire, my night was ruined.
They had fake coal electric fires in those days, gas fires with ceramic columns, but no fake log gas fires. It started with the numbers If the telephone number was wrong, then how could I believe anything after that? Did Hawking really discover new things about black holes?