Everyone’s heard of the greatest commandment
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.
I’ve already talked about loving God with all your soul, might and strength, but what about loving your neighbor? Who is my neighbor? What’s this about loving myself? My enemies? Or are they neighbors?
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
How do we do nothing for ourselves, but also think of ourselves so that we can love our neighbors as ourselves?
I think that the questions end when we look at C.S. Lewis’ words. I can do no better or even come close to the elegance, so I will not hide the fact that these are his words and I agree with them wholeheartedly
… We might try to understand exactly what loving your neighbour as yourself means. I have to love him as I love myself. Well, how exactly do I love myself? Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness or affection for myself, and I do not even always enjoy my own society. So apparently “Love your neighbour” does not mean “feel fond of him” or “find him attractive.” I ought to have seen that before, because, of course, you cannot feel fond of a person by trying. Do I think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I am afraid I sometimes do (and those are, no doubt, my worst moments) but that is not why I love myself. In fact it, is the other way round: my self-love makes me think myself nice, but thinking myself nice is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. That is an enormous relief. For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are. Go a step further. In my most clear-sighted moments not only do I not think myself a nice man, but I know that I am a very nasty one. I can look at some of the things I have done with horror and loathing. So apparently I am allowed to loathe and hate some of the things my enemies do. Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.
For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life — namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, III.7)
Final thoughts: so I just wanted to share a practical example of this: schoolwork/work. So how should you handle your duties? So I think that these 2 (extreme) examples best illustrate what not to do, a.k.a. wrong interpretations of both sides:
- I work an extra 5 hours so I can get praise, set the curve, reward, etc.
- I work so that I can keep my job. Selfish? Not with the right attitude. Because to fail your job purposely through neglect is to say to God, “I don’t think you made the right choice in placing me in _______”
So neither of these courses of action are right, obviously. So, in a nutshell I think that in a round-about way, we’ve been asking the question of, “What does it mean to be humble?”
Being humble is not thinking nothing of yourself, but not thinking of yourself.
-Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life , (paraphrased)