Last autumn, I wrote a post on “Things That I Hate” describing eight things that I hate, so I am now providing the opposite list. Now, this is no Valentine’s list where I talk about my precious bride or my five, dear children. The things on this list are things that I love but are out of balance with what is right. Some of these things should not be “loved” at all, and others are loved much more than they ought.
- I love my own ease. I am often driven by convenience or what requires the least effort.
- I love my reputation. Regularly, I want to be thought of as “good” more than actually doing good.
- I love my freedom. I do not like to be bound by contracts, commitments or even responsibilities. I like to have options and to be able to pursue my personal desires.
- I love to experience pleasure. Some pleasures are appropriate and some are foul, but my search for pleasure is mostly motivated by self-interests.
- I love safety. I do not want to risk being poor, being hurt or being vulnerable.
- I love to be liked. The approval of others is sometimes my chief or only motive to act.
- I love beneficial relationships. I seek relationships that provide some “pay-back”. The currency may be fun, career advancement, or social status, but I am looking for a return on my relational investment.
- I love to be respected. I want my children, my students, my peers and my bosses to respect me, even beyond what is warranted. I do not like the idea of “earning respect” over the long haul through humble service. I want respect to be the default setting for my title, position or role.
Of course, a common theme of these misplaced “loves” is selfishness. It is impossible to start with a self-first attitude and then grow into a healthy, other-oriented love. So, in short, I do not have a love problem; I have a self-love problem. Jesus regularly diagnosed this heart problem in His audience and at least on one occasion gave the clear remedy.
In Matthew 22, Jesus describes the chief needs of humans as two rightly-placed loves. He states that humans are to love God with all of their being. With that command, the Great Physician provides insight into our disease and its cure. We cannot love ourselves and love God supremely alongside. Self-love and the proper love for God are both too all consuming to co-exist. The only kinds of loves that can co-exist with God-love are the kinds that stem from love for God. Jesus notes that with the second command, to love your neighbor as yourself. Even here, Jesus is not allowing self-love but instead saying that love for others has to take the place now occupied by self-love. To be a true lover, one that honors God, first love the Lord (who is the Great Lover) and then love others for His sake. To love fully in this way, you must slay self-love.
Two means that Jesus provided for killing self-love are “take up your cross daily” (see suffering as a part of the Christian walk) and to pray “not my will, but yours be done” (submitting our plans to His great purposes).