“All excesses,” said another Father, “are products of the devil.”
Having tried to let these few words sink in, I find them a great challenge. In the context of the Desert Christians and their world-view, excess was defined as anything more than a person needed for one day. They considered very little to be necessary. A garment, enough food for one day. A cell in which to pray the Psalms and weave their baskets. Anything else was to be given to someone in need. It was an austere life.
We in our times live amidst an excess that would horrify the Desert Christians and which we take for granted. Our definition of what we need for daily life is certainly larger. And with some very good justifications. One example, I live in a city with a truly wretched public transportation system and it is no wonder people feel they need cars to get to work, take the kids to school, buy groceries and clothes, etc.
Beyond that, though, do we Christians spend much time separating needs from wants and then planning how to tithe that ten percent?