Bernard of Clairvaux ~ all about love

I am continuing in the book Devotional Classics edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith.  This week the text is written by Bernard of Clairvaux,  entitled Four Degrees of Love

This passage is all about perspective and the question ~ Why should God be loved?  The simple answer Bernard gives is because he is God.  Who deserves our love more than a God who sacrificed himself for someone like me who was undeserving?  (Romans 5:8

How much does God love us?  His love is never failing, never ending, always true.  "True love is precisely this: that it does not seek its own interests," and God is always True. 

Bernard takes the reader through a progression of four degrees of love.  A person begins at loving self for self’s sake.  This is the natural inclination of humanity.  We are self-centered, narcissistic, and focused solely on taking care of our own needs.

The second degree is the progression from loving self to loving God for self’s sake.  When we are happy, we take credit for the happiness, when life gets hard and disaster strikes, we turn to God.  The realization is that in this case we are loving God for self’s sake.  We try to preserve our precious life by clinging to the creator of it. 

Now, if the trials continue and there is no end in sight, but God continues to save us we begin to love God for God’s sake.  In other words, we love God because of who he is.  Because he is God and because he is good.  (Psalm 100:5)

The final degree of love Bernard says is very rare.  It happens when we love self for God’s sake.  This is the true meaning of "Thy will be done."  We no longer think of the cares of this world, but are solely concerned with the affairs of heaven. 

So it seems we must strive to move from our narcissistic love of self to the view that God has of self.  This life was not designed to be a reflection of what I think this life is supposed to be, God designed my life to be a reflection of who he is. 

Song: To Know Your Name – Hillsong

Song: Surely We Can Change – Crowder

"But the problem it seems, is with you and me
not the Love who came to repair everything
and I don’t know, what to do with a Love like that
and I don’t know, how to be a love like that
and all the love in the world is right here, among us
and hatred too, so we must choose what our hands will do…"

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