No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but those who pursue pleasure irrationally may encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally toil and pain can procure some great pleasure…
Who would fault a man who chooses pleasure that has no negative consequences, or who avoids any pain which produces no resultant pleasure? On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue.
The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse.

COMMENTARY

Have you ever seen the Lorem Ipsum text? It’s a large collection of altered Latin that starts like this: “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua…” You may have come across and not even realized it, you see it is commonly used as a placeholder or background text. If you look closely at a graphic with nonsense text written on a newspaper, then quite possibly this is what was used.
But it’s actually an excerpt from a work by Cicero, and one that is particularly profound. I have given an abbreviated form of the translation up above. Though this is not a work of scripture, I am convinced that there is a simple truth to it. There is nothing wrong in desiring pleasure and avoiding pain…yet only if one has the wisdom to recognize that actions of immediate pleasure sometimes are followed by a worse pain, and moments of immediate pain sometimes are followed by a better pleasure.
Thus one is right to avoid the pain of touching the burning stove, but one is also right to endure the pain of healthy exercise to enjoy a better physical condition. And yet, even knowing that eating too much will be bad for us, we still do it anyway. It is common knowledge today that smoking cigarettes is bad for us, but people still smoke. Our conscience warns against telling lies, but still we lie. Tomorrow let’s examine why this sort of illogic is baked into our very nature, and how God calls us to overcome it.

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