On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 103: Self Love

“For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” (Matthew 16: 26 RSV)

The past two blogs were forums to discuss Theosis, Illumination, nous, and the passions.  The previous terms, embedded in Orthodox Spirituality, are seldom discussed in homilies.  However, Orthodox Spirituality is an essential part of our Church life. And an understanding of Orthodox Spirituality brings our worship into perspective. 

 We must appreciate the fact that when our nous becomes darkened by our desires, sin, and passions, we no longer worship in a proper manner. In this darkness, we are filled with self-love and the desire to please ourselves instead of seeking constant communion with God.

 Self-love creeps into our lives in a very subtle manner, so subtle that we do not recognize it.  It disguises itself hiding its darkness and ugliness.  Matthew Gallatin in his book Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells describes self-love: “When I am self-concerned, practice self-justification, act on self-desire, follow paths that are self-centered and self-directed - in fact, any time the word “self” can be used in the description of what I am doing - I am dancing to a dangerous drummer called self-love.”

Did Jesus not tell us to deny ourselves - “Let him deny himself.” (Mt 16:24 RSV).  Do we deny ourselves or do we self-indulge ourselves? 

The Church is a spiritual hospital to heal us of our sins. And the greatest root of all sins is self-love.  When we approach God in thanks and gratitude for what He has given us, we may then experience joy.  We cannot be truly joyful without being grateful.  Our thanks are evident by giving back to God in proportion to what He has given us. 

It is at this point that we open ourselves up to the spiritual healing the church provides. Then we move closer to the illumination of our nous and Theosis, the ever present communion with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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