I have been learning that that your love for God drives you to pursue your happiness in the happiness of others. God’s love in us brings us to love ourselves and then flows out from us to love others with that same love. Again, let me quote Jonathan Edwards.
Selfishness is a principle which does, as it were, confine a man’s heart to himself. Love enlarges it and extends it to others. A man’s self is as it were extended and enlarged by love. Others so far as beloved do, as it were, become parts of himself; so that wherein their interest is promoted he looks on his own as promoted, and wherein their interest is touched his is touched (WJE 8, p. 263).
When you start loving the way Jesus loves you realize the truth of Jesus’ promise, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Being free to love means being free to give others the love that is flowing from the Source of Love in your soul. It means being free to love others by giving your time, free to love others by sharing your talents, free to be generous with your money and possessions. It means being free to love when it is hard as well as when it is easy, free to love when it is inconvenient as easily as when it is convenient, free to love when it is costly as easily as when it is affordable.
That is the real difference between what many people think of as love and the love that makes the world go round, isn’t it? It is that kind of love that made Mother Teresa spend her life on the orphans of India. It is that kind of love that drives Jesus to leave the flock of ninety-nine to find the one that is lost. It is that kind of love that Jesus followed to the cross so that He might have the joy of bringing you forgiveness and freedom. He knew we were trapped by our sin. He knew that we could not break free ourselves. And for no other reason than love He freed us so that we could live with Him, in Him, and for Him and know the joy that He has in the Father.
That same love is now a part of you because of the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart. And God does not want you to keep it to yourself as if it were in limited supply. He wants you to love with the same passion with which He loves you. “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”
Your Father wanted you to be free to live a life of love. Jesus purchased that freedom for you with His life. The Holy Spirit has connected you to the Father so that you know His love, so that you know where your happiness lies; that you may love yourself, and in that same love that Christ has for you, you experience an overflow of that love that moves you to live a life of love for your family, your friends, your fellow Christians, your neighbors, and even your enemies.
[i] WJE 8, p. 263.