Screwtape Letter 21

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Grizz Gallant
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Screwtape Letter 21

Post by Grizz Gallant » February 12th, 2019, 5:26 am

I am currently working on a staff devotion for work. I belive I am going to use Screwtape Letter 21 by CS Lewis for part of it. I am aware that a lot of folks around here read Lewis. What are your thoughts on the content of letter 21? What stands out to you as important?
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Re: Screwtape Letter 21

Post by Kesarahk » February 13th, 2019, 12:46 am

Grizz, if I had to pick one line out of that letter, it's this one:
You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption, “My time is my own”.
There's been times in my life during which I stressed much over not being able to keep a schedule. Events barrelled through like freight trains, destroying any semblance of a planned day/week/year. I was frustrated and panicky because I wasn't "accomplishing" what I was "supposed to do."

Underneath that was the assumption that I HAD to have a schedule and I HAD to do certain things because I was SUPPOSED to do them. It took a long time to realize that what God wanted me to do, He would make possible; if He made it impossible, maybe He didn't want me to do it. That He would always give me the time needed to do what HE wanted me to do. As Screwtape puts it, "The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience."

In other words, God's in control of the freight trains, and if my schedule is all smashed up as a result... that's okay. He had something more important for me to do, experience, or learn: whatever He put in front of me.

I have to re-learn that on a daily basis. ^_^
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Re: Screwtape Letter 21

Post by Grizz Gallant » February 14th, 2019, 5:12 am

Yes, that is also the one that stands out to me as well. I have often treated my schedule as king, and been very territorial of my "free time".
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Re: Screwtape Letter 21

Post by Grizz Gallant » February 14th, 2019, 8:58 pm

One of the things that stands out to me can be found in the first paragraph. Here screwtape asserts that the way to begin leading this man down the wrong path is “by darkening his intellect”. Lewis asserts in many of his writings that many of the false things people hold on to as true just would not hold up if given a serious time of reflection. I find this to be true. When I have my brain on and engaged I often find myself getting into less trouble. We can find Biblical support for this train of thought as well.

Ephesians 5 8-17

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.


This section speaks about living wisely, not foolishly, by following the ways of the Lord and understanding His will. But much of the rest of the letter goes on to speak about a particular thing to which my intellect has been darkened for quite some time. God has been working on it in my life as well for quite some time, though I wasn’t quite aware of it till now. The assumption that “My time is my own”. I have lived much my life extremely territorial of my personal time. I would become very angry if someone or something infringed upon my plans for that time in any way. While much of that anger, like my overwhelming anger about so many other things has been burned away by the Lord over time, I must confess that I still hold onto a bit of annoyance at interruptions to my schedule. But in reality that should not be the case. Like Screwtape says, if the Lord Jesus stood before me physically and asked me to give him my full day, I like to think that I would do so without hesitation. Even if how he meant me to use that time was to simply listen to people talk about things which in my mind were pointless. Yet, as Screwtape points out that is exactly the situation we all find ourselves in every day.

Psalm 24:1 says:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;


My every second belongs to the Lord. It is His to do with as He sees fit. I have no more right to one particular time block than to another. I need to be paying attention, and if the Lord gives me an opportunity to obey Him in some way I need to notice it and be willing to give it to Him and with a thankful heart, regardless of what my schedule says.

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
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Re: Screwtape Letter 21

Post by Ben » February 17th, 2019, 7:48 pm

"Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury."

The first sentence of the second paragraph stood out to me. Unfortunate and tragic events happen every day. In our own lives and across the world. However, not all of these unfortunate events will affect us in the same way. Millions of people go hungry across the world daily. On any given day; will you be more upset over the millions going hungry OR your shoelace getting untied? The difference is the misfortunate event is affecting you, not someone else. This doesn't mean we believe our shoes are more important than starving and potentially unreached peoples. This simply illustrates how idolatry can creep into our lives when we try to take ownership of things God has provided for us. Different example. Will you be more upset over your car breaking down on the way to work, or your shoelace getting untied? Wether or not, and how much we get upset over an unfortunate event can help us reveal hidden idolatry.

Instead of relying on your car to get to you to and from work, rely on God. If your car breaks down, so what? God wanted us off the road for a reason. Maybe God wanted to show you something while you knelt down and retied your shoelace. This one will hit close to home. Let's say a dedicated troll(s) joined one of our private game servers and trashed the whole thing overnight. You log on the next morning to find hundreds of hours of progress ruined. (Thanks to rollback technology this isn't a big issue). Without rollback, what would you do? Would you be angry and hard of heart? Or would you be able to calm down and be willing to forgive the culprit? Imagining these scenarios every once in a while can be a healthy way to reveal, and prevent idolatry in our everyday lives. By no means am I teaching personal belongings are evil. This simply means that depending on certain things for everyday functions should be done so while giving thanks to God and guarding our hearts.
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Re: Screwtape Letter 21

Post by Grizz Gallant » February 18th, 2019, 3:05 am

Kesa and Ben,

Thank you both for your input on this subject. It has been very useful to me.
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Re: Screwtape Letter 21

Post by Kesarahk » February 19th, 2019, 11:11 pm

I love Lewis's stuff. =D
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