A nun once asked Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain about the difference between simplicity and guile:
– Geronda, is simplicity different from guile?
The Holy Elder replied:
– Yes, in the same way a fox is different from a jackal. When a jackal wants to snatch something, he boldly comes and takes what he wants. A fox will try to get what she wants with the help of cunning.
– Geronda, can cunning be understood as pungency of wit?
– Yes, maybe, but looking at oneself, one can always distinguish between cunning and the sharpness of mind. There is a rule of thumb for that. What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Love, joy, peace, and the like (Gal. 5: 22-23).
Without the above-mentioned things, a person will always have something satanic in him.
An intelligent person is purified and freed from passions. A truly smart person will have sanctified his own mind. If the mind is not sanctified, then there is no use in its acuity.
Journalists and politicians are smart people, but in their wisdom many of them say clever things mixed with terrible nonsense!
If a person himself does not use his sharp mind for the good, then the devil will use it for the evil.
– So, by not using the sharpness of our mind for good things, do we thereby entitle the devil to use it at his discretion?
– If a person does not use his mind for good deeds, the rights to it are granted to the devil automatically. By not working spiritually, a person perverts the good. And then it is not the devil who does evil, but the man. For example, a person may be smart, but too lazy to work intellectually. But what’s the point in being smart if you are not using your head?
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds