Reading Reflection:

The City of God, Saint Augustine (Modern Library, 2000, originally written in 426)

How do you love others? Are you generous with your time? Do you look for opportunities to serve? Do you really love others as much as you love yourself? What would that be like? How about pointing them to the fountain of happiness? That’s how Augustine refers to our Savior:

For He is the fountain of our happiness, He the end of all our desires. Being attached to Him, or rather let me say, re-attached—for we had detached ourselves and lost hold of Him—being, I say, re-attached to Him, we tend towards Him by love, that we may rest in Him, and find our blessedness by attaining that end. For our good, about which philosophers have so keenly contended, is nothing else than to be united to God. It is, if I may say so, by spiritually embracing Him that the intellectual soul is filled and impregnated with true virtues. We are enjoined to love this good with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength. To this good we ought to be led by those who love us, and to lead those we love. Thus are filled those two commandments on which we hang all the law and the prophets: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul;” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” For, that man might be intelligent in his self-love, there was appointed for him an end to which he might refer all his actions, that he might be blessed. For he who loves himself wishes nothing else than this. And the end set before him is “to draw near to God.” And so, when one who has this intelligent self-love is commanded to love his neighbor as himself, what else is enjoined than that he shall do all in his power to commend to him the love of God? This is the worship of God, this is true religion, this is right piety, this is the service due to God only. If any immortal power, then, no matter with what virtue endowed, loves us as himself, he must desire that we find our happiness by submitting ourselves to Him, in submission to whom he himself finds happiness (306-307).

Just yesterday I heard a beautiful, young woman on TV talk about how important it is to love yourself. She had lost over 200 pounds and now felt like she truly loved herself as she took better care of her body. We tend to confuse pride with intelligent self-love. C.S. Lewis points out the sinful danger of delighting wholly in yourself in Mere Christianity. Our culture teaches that our goal is to find our delight in our ability to please ourselves. We are told that our goal is to not care what others think about us; most important is what we think of ourselves. That is partially true. It is important what we think of ourselves. But if we have an intelligent self-love, we know that we cannot find our delight in ourselves. It matters what one other Person thinks of us above all. That is, of course the One who created us.

We all love ourselves. It just might not be intelligent self-love. Even a person with so-called low self-esteem has self-love. They want happiness for themselves. They want to be blessed. Lewis explains that we don’t love ourselves because there’s anything in us especially worth loving. We may be disgusted with ourselves, but we still wish our own good. Using Lewis’s logic, the very reason this beautiful, young lady on TV hated her behavior that led to obesity was because she loved herself. She didn’t want to be that person. She just didn’t have what Augustine calls intelligent self-love. Although, she could be in the best shape of her life and still not have intelligent self-love.

Intelligent self-love is knowing that we cannot find our joy within ourselves, or in anything other than Christ. He is the fountain of our happiness, the end of all our desires. And if we truly love our neighbors as we love ourselves (intelligently), we will point them to this abundantly flowing fountain where they will become impregnated with true virtue.

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6 Comments

When Jesus spent his time on

When Jesus spent his time on Earth, he would have lived by the greatest commandments, this would have been the greatest way he could respond to each and every situation in his life. But how did Jesus love all his neighbours as he loved himself, the ones who condemned him to death, the soldiers who crowned him with thorns and nailed him to the cross? Jesus was an innocent man, with the power and authority to ask God to punish these people.

But it seems that nothing, and no one should stand in the way of Jesus living by the greatest commandments, and we know that he prayed on the cross, ‘ forgive them Father’
It seems that every time Jesus suffered injustice here on Earth, he forgave, in order that
he should continue to love the sinners as he loved himself. If Jesus can forgive the people who had him killed, then it should give us hope that we can be forgiven also. What kind of a burden do we place on Jesus with our sins?

After his resurrection does the divine nature of Jesus, follow his human nature? When Jesus ascended into heaven, does Jesus still forgive us, in order that he should continue to love each and every one of us as he loves himself?

Just a P.S. Jenny Rae

Just a P.S.

Jenny Rae Armstrong posted today that guest article I was telling you about, the one stemming from the human trafficking conference I was at earlier this month. Hope you and our friends here at HWT get a chance to read it over: http://www.jennyraearmstrong.com/2012/06/12/rape-drugs-roadside-stands-a...

What is generally overlooked

What is generally overlooked is the fact that Jesus Christ came to fulfil the law for those for whom He would die. By fulfilling the law for His people, it is evident that as Christ was God manifest in the flesh, He knew each and every individual for whom He was vicariously fulfilling the law, and would eventually take the judgment due to them for the breaking of the law.

Jesus Christ knew every hair, upon each one of those whom He came to save, down to their expectations in life, desires, sorrows, joys, goals and aims, disappointments and fulfilments, eve to the colour of their eyes to the ends of their toes. He knew what we would be and what we desired to be. The closeness of vicariousness is little noticed or understood. When Christ rose His people rose with Him (Isa.26.19) The bond between Jesus Christ and His church is a personal and eternal one, that can never be broken by time.

Yeah Tim, as I was writing

Yeah Tim, as I was writing it, I was thinking that Augustine was referring to the immortality of our spirits, and that if we love other's as much as our own, that we would point them to the one who gives us blessed life for eternity, rather than judgment.
But Christ surly is the only one who has truly fulfilled loving God with all his heart, mind, and soul, and loving his neighbor as himself. And he gave his very life to make this accomplishment ours as well. Mind blowing.

Great reflection on the

Great reflection on the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself issue, Aimee. That last line from the Augustine passage really got me thinking:

"If any immortal power, then, no matter with what virtue endowed, loves us as himself, he must desire that we find our happiness by submitting ourselves to Him, in submission to whom he himself finds happiness."

God loves us as he loves himself? Jesus did come to live among us, as a neighbor among those who were lost, to reconcile us to the Father. (Gal. 2:20.) So does that mean that Christ lived out the instruction he gave, loving his neighbors (us) as he loves himself? I really had not even thought of this as a possibility before and it's blowing my mind a bit. You?

Tim

Self-love is evil and wicked.

Self-love is evil and wicked. The only love we should have is toward God, as commanded in the first table of the law of God, which is to be preached to all mankind (Rev.14.7). The second table is also required. Again, taking away love of self for love of others, so that we do not feed our own inate pride, so encouraging self-love, a most distructive thing.