Jonathan Edwards on self-love, selfishness, and Christian Charity (love):
“Sin, like some powerful astringent, contracted his soul to the very small dimensions of selfishness; and God was forsaken, and fellow-creatures forsaken, and man retired within himself, and became totally governed by narrow and selfish principles and feelings. Self-love became absolute master of his soul, and the more noble and spiritual principles of his being took wings and flew away.”
This passage struck me tonight because of part of tomorrow’s sermon topic – friendship. Sin not only severs our relationship with God, it does significant damage to our relationships with each other. Friendship, itself a love (philo), is contrary to selfishness and self-love. In our sin we believe self-love is what will make us whole, whereas in reality, something like the giving love of friendship will do us a lot more good.
A few sentences later Edwards notes the restorative power of the Christian life:
“And so Christianity restores an excellent enlargement, and extensiveness, and liberality to the soul, and again possesses it with that divine love or charity that we read of in the text whereby it again embraces its fellow-creatures, and is devoted to and swallowed up in the Creator.”
Edwards, J., & Edwards, T. (1969). Charity and its fruits: Christian love as manifested in the heart and life. London: Banner of Truth Trust. Pgs 158-159
The power of Christ in us enlarges our souls toward God and each other, restoring what our sin and selfishness created.
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