Another frequent temptation that has gained speed in our modern world is how the devil has convinced us that everything is “mine.”
This is how Screwtape describes the devil’s devious plan:
You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption “My time is my own.” Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties….
We produce this sense of ownership not only by pride but by confusion. We teach them not to notice the different sense of the possessive pronouns-the finely graded differences that run from “my boots” through “my dog,” “my servant,” “my wife,” “my father,” “my master,” and “my country,” to “my God.” They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of “my boots,” the “my” of ownership….
And all the time the joke is that the word “Mine” in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. (Screwtape Letters, 113-114, emphasis added)
In our culture, this sense that everything is “mine” can even be seen in the way we name the technology we use. We all have “iPhones,” “iPads,” “iPods,” and each of these devices are geared at serving only one person: the “i.” We are not encouraged to share these gadgets with others; instead each member of the family is to possess their own and many dinner tables are witnesses of everyone looking down at their phones instead of talking to each other.
Additionally, we take “selfies” with our “iPhones,” which are meant to capture an individual in a specific setting. The focus is not so much the people or event that is taking place, but the “self” that is taking the picture.
The devil has successfully won over our culture and we don’t even notice it. We forget that everything is a gift from God.
One example of the Church’s teaching that everything is a gift from God comes in relation to our view of the poor. Saint Ambrose once said, “You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his.” All that we have is from God and it is meant to be shared with others. Whatever it may be, whether it is our time, money, or possessions; all is gift.
Also, we are designed to image the Holy Trinity and live in relation with others. We are not meant to only serve ourselves, but to serve others. This impacts the way we use our time, money or possessions and helps us to realize the proper way to use them.
Saint Francis of Assisi’s life was a great example of this simple truth. He did not believe that anything he had was due to him, but was only given to him to better serve those around him. In fact, the only person who is due anything is God. We owe Him everything.
Let us remember that we are not owed anything and that every good thing we receive is meant to be at the service of the common good of all. The world does not revolve around us…it revolves around the Son.
***If you would like to follow-along reading the The Screwtape Letters, I suggest to purchase your own copy of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. If you don’t like reading, I highly suggest buying the dramatization of the letters by Focus on the Family, called The Screwtape Letters: First Ever Full-cast Dramatization of the Diabolical Classic (Radio Theatre). It features Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and is well produced.
Read the Entire Series
- #15: How Men Are Attracted To Women Who Do Not Exist
- #14: How We Can Diet and Eat Healthy Food and Still Commit Gluttony
- #13: Two Reasons Why the Devil Wants us to Shop Around for the “Best” Parish
- The Enemy’s Tactic #12: Why the Devil Hates the Present Moment
- The Enemy’s Tactic #11: How the Devil Redefines Humility
- The Enemy’s Tactic #10: The Safest Road to Hell is the Gradual One
- The Enemy’s Tactic #9: The Trap of Living a Double Life
- The Enemy’s Tactic #8: How the Devil Twists Pleasure into a Stumbling Block for Many
- The Enemy’s Tactic #7: How the Devil Hides his Existence with Red Tights and a Pitchfork
- The Enemy’s Tactic #6: How Satan Encourages us to be Charitable to People we Do Not Know
- The Enemy’s Tactic #5: How the Devil Tricks us into Believing that Death Will Never Come
- The Enemy’s Tactic #4: Stripping the Liturgy
- The Enemy’s Tactic #3: Daily Pinpricks
- The Enemy’s Tactic #2: Focusing on Sinners in the Church
- The Enemy’s Tactic #1: The Loss of Reason
- In the Enemy’s Camp: An In-depth Look at the Tactics of the Devil