Love for God: Pure or False

The Religious Affections
By Jonathan Edwards

Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is from the pen of the 18th-century Puritan pastor, Jonathan Edwards. Here he contrasts a pure love of God with one that comes from selfish interest.

When we have a spiritual love for God, we do not first see what He can do for us and then see that He is lovely; instead, we first see that God is lovely, and then we see how much He loves us. Our hearts are entirely won by the sight of Christ’s glorious excellence. Our love’s root is in God Himself, and self-love has a hand in our love only secondarily. In contrast, false love begins with the self, and any appreciation of God’s nature is secondary, dependent on the satisfaction of self-interest. When we truly love God, however, this love is the deepest foundation of our lives; all of our other concerns are built on it, and self-love acts only as a servant to our heart’s most basic love. Selfish people, on the other hand, always have themselves at the deepest level of their being, and they try to build on God as the superstructure that rests on this foundation. Even their acknowledgment of God’s glory depends on their private interest.

—Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS, abridged and updated by Ellyn Sanna (Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Publishing, 1999), page 131. ISBN 1-57748-525-4. You can also find the entire book at www.ccel.org/e/edwards/affections/religious_affections.html.


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

Edwards goes on to talk about the proper place of gratitude in our love for God, specifically grace-filled gratitude. He also answers the objection that his argument seems to contradict the truth of 1 John 4:19; “We love him, because he first loved us.” He says, “God’s love for His people is the deepest foundation of their love for Him, just as it is the foundation of their regeneration and the whole of their redemption.” Read more Edwards.


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