Let us strive and pray that the love of holiness may be created within our hearts; and then acts will follow, such as befit us and our circumstances, in due time, without our distressing ourselves to find what they should be. You need not attempt to draw any precise line between what is sinful and what is only allowable; look up to Christ, and deny yourselves everything, whatever its character, which you think He would have you relinquish. You need not calculate and measure, if you love much; you need not perplex yourselves with points of curiosity, if you have a heart to venture after Him. True, difficulties will sometimes arise, but they will be seldom. He bids you take up your cross; therefore accept the daily opportunities which occur of yielding to others, when you need not yield, and of doing unpleasant services which you might avoid. He bids those who would be highest, live as the lowest: therefore, turn from ambitious thoughts and (as far as you religiously may) make resolves against taking on your authority. He bids you sell and give alms, therefore, hate to spend money on yourself. Shut your ears to praise, when it grows loud: set your face like a flint, when the world ridicules, and smile at its threats. Learn to master your heart, when it would burst form into vehemence, or prolong a barren sorrow, or dissolve into unseasonable tenderness. Curb your tongue and turn away your eye, lest you fall into temptation. Avoid the dangerous air which relaxes you, and brace yourself upon the heights. Be up at prayer “a great while before day” and seek the true, your only Bridegroom, “by night on your bed”. So shall self-denial become natural to you, and a change to come over you, gently and imperceptibly; and like Jacob, you will lie down in the waste, and soon see Angels, and a way opened for you into heaven.*
*Excerpt from Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling, by James Sire.