As fame of the desert monastics spread, people flocked to the Egyptian desert. The question everyone was concerned with was, "What should I do?" We will encounter this question many times this Lent as we consider these hermits of the wilderness.
This is a question we all want guidance on: what should I do with my time? What should I do in this situation? What should I do to improve? What should I do when I've done something wrong? What should I do with my money? What should I do with my life?
Anthony, the father of the desert monks, advises us that before we go about the things we should do in this life, we must reckon with three things that get in the way of good work: self-righteousness, worry and intemperance.
When we are over-confident in ourselves, we do not look for inspiration and help from God or our neighbors. Any good thing we do in this life depends on our dependence on God and fellow human beings. Instead of self-righteousness, we ought to seek confirmation and correction from our community and lean only of the righteousness of God.
If we worry too much about what to do, we will never take action. This is the opposite problem of self-righteous confidence. Act and trust God with the outcomes. You are never in absolute control of your life.
Intemperance--overindulgence, lack of self-control, gluttony--this too inhibits any good we intend to do. Taking right action involves knowing when to hold back, when to be restrained. Self-restraint is a discipline that is practiced in every area of life, including speech, food and beverage. There is a time to hold back. As is often said, the right thing at the wrong time is wrong.
You may be considering that question now: what should I do? Seek God and neighbor, trust in the God who made you and be measured in all things.