Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Love of Self for God's Sake

The following principles are being taught in the Emergent Church movement. It's based upon the book by Bernard of Clairvaux’s Four Degrees of Love. Clairvaux developed an understanding of love in degrees or depths.
First Degree: The love of self for self sake.
Second Degree: The love of God for self sake.
Third Degree: The love of God for God’s sake.
Fourth Degree: The love of self for God’s sake.

The problem with the fourth degree of love is that it isn't true. The Bible teaches "less of me, more of You." Jesus said that the greatest command was to love God with all we have. Jesus did not use loving ourselves as the measure, but loving God, our neighbor, and our enemy - not ourselves. If we intentionally begin to love ourselves for God's sake, we'll become selfish. Our needs will become a natural outflow, when we fit ourselves into the equation. It's just another illustration of how we are encouraged to develop lukewarmness as we are living in Laodicia.

The statement, "love your neighbor as yourself" is not a command to love yourself. It is natural and normal to love yourself. The fact that the vast majority of people in the world care for their own needs is testament to the fact that love for self is not lacking. The statement, "love your neighbor as yourself" is essentially saying treat other people as well as you treat yourself. The idea of loving yourself as a command of Scripture is not accurate. The Bible presumes that people already love themselves too much—that is our problem. We are to take our eyes off ourselves and care for others.