The first virtue is detachment, that is, death in relation to every person or thing. This produces the desire for God, and this in turn gives rise to the anger that is in accordance with nature, and that flares up against all the tricks of the enemy. Then the fear of God will establish itself within us, and through this fear love will be made manifest.
~St Isaiah The Solitary (Philokalia, vol. 1, p. 27)
We all are easily prone to misuse the gifts of this life, making idols of ourselves, our relations, the material things that we have been given by God, and the talents with which we have been blessed. As Christians we know our salvation and life is with Christ, and He himself has told us that we need to have no love greater than our love for Him.
He commands this in fact, and since His commandments are for our benefit, and by following His commands we show our love for Him, it is essential that we understand this command and follow it. Nevertheless it is not easy to detach from the world and all of the people and things we have grown accustomed to enjoying. This is why the ascetic disciplines, such as prayer and fasting, vigils and spiritual reading, can be of such great help to us as we work to create new habits of devotion to God.
Even living as people in the world, it is possible to devote ourselves to the Lord, living in the world but not of it, and dedicating our hearts to His service, praying at all times, cultivating our hearts to desire Him above everything else.
Our love of this world and everything in it blinds us to the deeper spiritual realities and obscures the clear vision that God intends for us. As we take steps to detach from this world we can begin to gain clarity, seeing the deceptions that hold us attached to it. Only after we create some distance between ourselves and the world can we begin to see it for what it is, and observe the myriad ways the devil and his servants manipulate us and enslave us. A natural anger will allow us to fight these tricks and, by the grace of God, win our way to freedom. Then we begin to see things as they are, ourselves as we are, and begin to see God as He is, which can only lead us to a merciful fear leading to love, such as the kind Isaiah had in God’s throne room when he said, “Woe is me, for I am undone!”
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.