Selfish love or God’s love: Which do you have?
What are the motives and results of our love? Suffocating egotism or life-giving selflessness?
Selfish love centers around “I,” “Me,” and “Mine.” A person whose love centers around himself is like a spider in the middle of its web, holding all the threads in his hand. Everything revolves around self. “I” am king, “I” am god, “I” must be loved, honored and worshipped—otherwise “my” wrath is kindled. “I” won’t give away something for nothing. “I” must first be certain that “I” will be fully compensated. “I” need everything and have a right to everything.
All of selfish love’s energy is directed toward “I.” Nothing flows out from it—out to others.
God’s love causes His sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous. He sends rain over the evil and the good. All of His goodness flows out—nothing is too good to be given away. Just as the sun shines unselfishly and provides everything we need for food and clothing, so God’s love radiates and imparts all things that pertain to life and godliness.
Selfish love is destructive
Selfish love nurtures one person—“I.” However, because this “I” always wants to be the object of selfish love, the person himself becomes dominated by selfish love. Because selfish love always ignores and becomes oblivious to the things and people around it, a person who is filled with it—this “I”—soon becomes prey to the suffocating power of selfish love—which is Satan himself. Selfish love ensnares its victim and destroys it in a gruesome way.
God’s love gives and creates life
The Holy Spirit has poured out the love of God in our hearts. This love shares itself with us, so that we ourselves become masters who are always looking for others to whom we can express goodness. God’s love gives us the entire world in which to labor—a huge area—but selfish love can only find one person, this “I,” and even abuses and destroys that one.
God’s love longs to share and give; it creates life and joy wherever it is. This love is sought after and loved, but selfish love is hated everywhere.
Christ ascended on high and gave gifts to men. If we want to have gifts to share, we must ascend high enough above the dust of the earth so that we are able to see the need that plagues the children of men. When these gifts are freely and unselfishly given, people are very much surprised. Even those who are most selfish get a glimpse of love—far away, high above them. The nature of this love is quite different from thelove to which they are accustomed. That is why it is written that the goodness of God leads us to . We become the object of a love that comes from outside of ourselves—one that is vastly superior to our selfish love.
This love has a refreshing effect: People admire it and turn toward it, wanting to possess it, just like the leaves of a houseplant in the window turn toward the sun. This is true conversion. If we, like this plant, continue to receive the light of the Sun of Righteousness, we will soon begin to blossom and exude a pleasant fragrance. We already have something to give. God’s love has implanted something of His own nature within us. We shun selfish love and find pleasure by abiding in the light and sharing those things that the light has caused to grow in us.
Sharing heavenly treasures
A man who is rich in this world can—if he is good—do much good and bring joy to many people. In the same way, a person who has gathered riches in God can use those riches to bring joy to many. If he is very rich, he can entertain his friends without fear of running out of resources. If earthly riches can make us happy in this world, how much more valuable are the heavenly treasures which can make us eternally happy?
You will find the love of God when you let it captivate you. Freely we have received it, and freely we can share its fruits.
This article has been translated from Norwegian and was first published under the title “What is love?” in BCC’s periodical Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) in September 1917.
© Copyright Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.