St Paisios on non-possessiveness

When someone asks us for something and we’re sad when we give it to them, that means that we love it more than we love Christ. – St Paisios

Not willing to let anything stand between himself and Christ, St Paisios disdained all worldly possessions and happily gave away anything that was asked of him, “for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) His life is a pure testimony to the godly grace that is provided when one follows a life of non-possessiveness.

Whilst non-possessiveness is often seen as a monastic virtue, St Paisios strongly believed that it applied to lay people as well. In the Saint’s view, the pursuit and accumulation of unnecessary possessions burdens and ties the soul down to this life, and prevents it from ascending to higher spiritual planes. He thus encouraged everyone to pursue true riches – those found in heavenly matters – and to grow the spiritual bank account which lasts forever, rather than the material bank account. In practical terms, acquiring this virtue begins through avoiding worldly company as far as possible, as such company encourages the gathering of worldly riches. It then proceeds by living a life of simplicity and forgoing unnecessary luxuries and ostentatious living.

Such a lifestyle brings with it many other spiritual benefits, two of which are humility and a stronger faith in the providence of God. Given that the Saint lived this lifestyle of non-possessiveness to its admirable extreme, it is only natural that he was able to experience each of those blessings. He was imparted with such grace that he would live like one of the birds described by Jesus in Matthew 6:26, he neither gathered anything into barns nor stored possessions, and yet God took care of him time and again. May we have the same trust and faith in God, and avoid possessions beyond our necessities.

Source: Lychnos October-November 2019