Augustine of Hippo: Earthly experiences are gifts

“If you find physical pleasure in earthly experiences, use the occasion to praise God for these gifts. Turn your love not on the pleasures but toward their Maker. Otherwise the things that please you will cause you to displease.”
Augustine of Hippo (354-430) in The Confessions of St. Augustine: Modern English Version (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005) 62.

I returned late last night from three days of fly fishing with my son, Sammy, in Puget Sound, WA. The trip was an unforgettable gift from God! One of my highlights was the way Sammy and I often celebrated “God’s extravagance” and creativity when catching a beautiful Coastal Cutthroat Trout.

With Augustine, we believe that gifts not received rightly can become like gods to us. For example, do we love fly fishing for trout? We enjoy it as a gift from God. Our love, however, is toward the creator of the fish, the One who gave us fish to enjoy and share (we practice catch and release). Today, Sammy and I have 110 reasons to praise God. That’s how many coastal cutthroats and coho salmon we landed in three days. No kidding!

If we cannot learn to enjoy and share God’s blessings as gifts, we can never be generous. Let us consider earthly experiences as gifts, and consequently, celebrate and imitate the generosity of the Giver of all good things (cf. James 1:17).

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