Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bernard of Clairvaux

"True love is precisely this: that is does not seek it's own interests...Love is a natural human affection. It comes from God. Hence the first and greatest commandment is, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God." But human nature is weak and therefore compelled to love itself and serve itself first. In the human realm people love themselves for their own sake. This is planted within us for who ever hated his own self?

But if this love of ourselves becomes too lavish, it will overflow its natural boundaries through excessive love of pleasure. People can easily become slaves to the soul's enemy: lust. This love of self is held in check by the command to love our neighbor. If we cannot love our neighbor because of our love of self, then we must restrain our lusts and give to our neighbor's needs. Your love will then be temperate when you take from yourself and give to your neighbor.

But what will you do if your own needs are not met? Will you look to God to meet your needs? God promises that those who seek first the kingdom and his righteousness will have all things added unto them. God promises that to those who restrict themselves and give to their neighbor, he will give whatever is necessary. Seeking first the kingdom means to prepare to bear the yoke of modesty and restraint rather than allow sin to reign in your mortal body...God must be loved first in order that we may love our neighbor in God."

From On The Love Of God

1 comment:

Daniel J. said...

Thats the question I always have- how do I restrict myself for my neighbor...but maybe he's pointing out that in some way I just need to be willing to restrict myself, and if my commitment to avoid excess for the sake of my neighbor is real, I'll find opportunity more naturally...just some musings.
--dtaylor