Jonathan Edwards on Love and Selfishness

And the truth of the doctrine, that the spirit of charity, or Christian love, is the opposite of a selfish spirit, will appear, if we consider the nature of Christian love to God.  We find that the Scriptures teach that those who truly love God, love Him so as wholly to devote themselves to Him and His service.  This we are taught in the sum of the ten commandments, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all they strength” (Mar 12:30).  In these words is contained a description of a right love to God; and they teach us that those who love Him aright do devote themselves wholly to Him.  They devote all to Him: all their heart, and all their soul, and all their mind, and all their strength, and all their powers and faculties.  Surely a man who gives all this wholly to God keeps nothing back, but devotes himself wholly and entirely to Him, making no reserve; and all who have true love to God have a spirit to do so…

A selfish principle never devotes itself to another.  The nature of it is, to devote all others to self.  They that have true love to God love Him as God and as the Supreme Good; whereas it is the nature of selfishness to set up self in the place of God, and to make an idol of self.  That being whom men regard supremely, they devote all to…

If you are Christians … “ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price” (1 Co 6:19,20), even “with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pe 1:19).  And this is urged as an argument why Christians should not seek themselves, but the glory of God; for the apostle adds, “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  By nature you were in a miserable, lost condition, a captive…and a miserable slave int he bondage of sin.  And Christ has redeemed you, and so you are His by purchase…And as you are not your own, so nothing that you have is your own.  Your abilities of body and mind, outward possessions, time, talents, influence, comforts – none of them are your own…

Let these things, then, incline us all to be less selfish than we are, and to seek more of the contrary most excellent spirit.  Selfishness is a principle native to us, and, indeed, all the corruption of our nature does radically consist in it.  But considering the knowledge that we have of Christianity, and how numerous and powerful the motives it presents, we ought to be far less selfish than we are, and less ready to seek our own interests and these only.  how much there is of this evil spirit and how little of that excellent, noble diffusive spirit which has now been set before us!  Whatever the cause be, let us strive to overcome it that we may grow in the grace of an unselfish spirit, and thus glorify God, and do good to men.

-Jonathan Edwards, Charity and its Fruits, pp. 15-16

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One thought on “Jonathan Edwards on Love and Selfishness

  1. Pingback: Share Your Gifts! « A Kiss Of Bliss

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