Okay, okay, we’re actually going to be reading excerpts from Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians. But his words reach through death and time and culture, giving us advice today about avoiding the [g]ospel of “money, prestige, image, security,” and how [G]ospel-followers ought react to this [g]ospel and the followers thereof.
‘But the love of money is the beginning of all troubles.’ Knowing, therefore, that ‘we brought nothing into the world, nor can we take anything out,’ let us arm ourselves with ‘the weapons of righteousness,’ and let us first teach ourselves to follow the commandment of the Lord.
I have been deeply grieved for Valens, who once was an elder among you, because he so fails to understand the office that was entrusted to him. I warn you, therefore: avoid love of money, and be pure and truthful. ‘Avoid every kind of evil.’ But how can a man who is unable to control himself in these matters preach self-control to someone else? If a man does not avoid love of money, he will be polluted by idolatry, and will be judged as [those] who are ignorant of the Lord’s judgment.
Therefore, brothers, I am deeply grieved for [Valens] and for his wife; may the Lord grant them true repentance. You, therefore, for your part must be reasonable in this matter, and do not regard such people as enemies, but as sick and straying members, restore them, in order that you may save your body in its entirety. For by doing this you build up one another.
For I am convinced that you are all well trained in the sacred Scriptures and that nothing is hidden from you (something not granted to me). Only, as it is said in these Scriptures, ‘be angry but do not sin,’ and ‘do not let the sun set on your anger.’ Blessed is the one who remembers this, which I believe to be the case with you.