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Loving God and Loving Others

“In the heart that knows nothing but love, there is no distinction between the love of God and the love of neighbor. The Apostle writes in 1 John that we cannot love God without loving our neighbor (4:20). “Love towards one’s brother cultivates love toward God…The two loves are bound together so tightly that the Apostle teaches that in each of them, love is “perfected,” that is, made complete (1 John 4:12 and 4:16)…” (St. Porphyrios, Fr. Basil)

“So, what can we do? Perhaps in being more mindful of this and viewing others through this lens of understanding, we can create a new priority for ourselves. Perhaps, one of our goals can be to never knowingly inflict a wound or stress on another human being. If we do inflict a wound, we immediately bandage it through apologies and accountability so that our injurious behavior does not leave a mark on their soul. In essence, we can become a gentle soul. If only we grasped the magnitude of our misbehavior towards others (even the small incidents), we would likely be more careful. Each time we behave in a confusing or hurtful way to another, it creates a ripple effect in which their reactions to others becomes affected and their view of humanity becomes just a bit more jaded. One of our callings is to help others to be loved and to make it safe for them to love us and others. Should any of this surprise us? After all, God is love and we are made in the image of God.” (Fr. Joshua Makoul)

“Jesus said, “As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” And then He also says, “Love your enemies.” Almost no one actually does this. It is overwhelming even to consider the possibility of treating every single person you meet with true love. Consider a moment of kindness you have received from a loved one or even a stranger. Think of how amazing that was. Now consider doing that with everyone, all the time. Now consider doing that with people who hate you, who say evil and false things about you, who mock you and try to destroy you, who oppose you at every turn. Yet this is what Christ says to do. He actually counters the objection most people might have for this ethic: “I treat people like they treat me. Respect has to be earned. I always pay back whatever I am given.” That might sound fair, but this is not the Christian ethic. The Christian ethic is actually totally unfair. The Christian ethic is to love your enemies, do good, be kind, and expect nothing in return.” (Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick)

“…love people as the very image of God and resist the temptation to improve them.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“If we hate somebody, we are in a very real sense hating God. Conversely, if we love somebody as demonstrated through our actions, we show we love God. Being created in God’s image and likeness means that every person bears His image and can grow in His likeness. The love we show them, or withhold from them, affects our ability, and theirs, to grow in His likeness. I am not sure we always understand or take this seriously enough. This is why we can fool ourselves into thinking we are well pleasing to God because we pray, go to Church, and do all of the “right things.” But if we don’t do this one right thing, love other people, or worse, treat them badly, we are profaning His image while mistakenly thinking we are worshipping Him correctly.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Human beings have an innate need for God.  They strive to satisfy it with self-made religions. But St. Porphyrios teaches how we might fulfill this need for religiosity with the simple words, “What makes a person holy is love, the adoration of Christ.” (Fr. Basil)

“…the Church is the fountain of compassion and mercy. It is not Christ’s Church that fails people, but sometimes the very therapists (clergy) who can get caught up in the letter of the law rather than being grounded in the mercy and compassion and love that is the foundation of the Church…If we desire God’s mercy for ourselves, we must be merciful to others. The only person I have the right to judge is myself.” (Abbott Tryphon)

“Only one who is humble is capable of loving God in a wholly spiritual way. A proud person loves not God, but rather merely his own love for God, admiring it, delighting in his own emotional experiences and excited nerves, which are the natural result of this egotistical and sensual love.” (Archbishop Averky (Taushev))

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” [1 Cor. 13:4-8].  This type of love is not merely a feeling or an emotion, but an essential characteristic of those who are becoming participants in the Savior’s fulfillment of the human person in the likeness of God.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)  

“It is for this reason that Christ, as the peace of the world, became the subject of love and not of faith One ought to transcend faith and hope, in order to remain in love. As the Apostle says, ‘eventually hope and faith will be abandoned and only love will remain’ [cf I Cor. 13], since love is an experiential fact — an existential event that makes man realize that he is truly united with God. This is the path walked by all those who loved Him to the end… Therefore, ever since Christ came into the world and brought peace, millions of martyrs gave up their lives for Him … because they truly loved Him and tasted His love. The love of Christ spoke into their hearts.” (Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol)

“Our world is not as it should be, for we live in a culture devoted to the bottom line. Often our society promotes love of things and the abuse of people rather than love of people and the use of things…Our society is not a community radiant with the love of Christ, but a dangerous network of domination and manipulation in which we can easily get entangled and lose our soul.” (Dynamis 8/16/2014, Henri Nouwen)

“Nowadays, there is a greater or less degree of self-love in most people. The spirit of sacrifice does not exist. Another spirit has entered our life: ‘Let nothing bad happen to me.’” (Orthodox Agape)

"Always give the preference to actions which appear to you the most agreeable to God, and most contrary to self- love." (St. Alphonsus)

“The whole idea here is to be able to see the other person as a brother and feel his pain. It is this very pain that moves God and brings about the miracle. For there is nothing else which moves God as much as a noble and sacrificial spirit. But now, in our time, this kind of nobility is rare, because self-love and self-interest have entered the picture.” (Saint Paisios of Mount Athos)

“If you find there is no love in you but you want to have it, then do works of love, although they may have been begun without love. The Lord will see your desire and attempt, and will put love into your heart.” (Elder Ambrose of Optina)

“There are times when it seems as if we cannot truly love people and also love God: People have too many needs; they are too demanding. If one is called to love God with all of one’s heart, soul, and strength, what is there left over? Yet, reading the Scriptures and listening to the teachings of all those who have spoken of God through the ages, we know that we cannot truly love God unless we love our neighbor. It’s not an “either/or” proposition, but a “both/and.” (Mother Raphaela)

“Love is right at the top of the list in relating to God and to other people (1 John 4:7–21). Once again, the Lord is defining true religion. It is always horizontal (directed toward other people) as well as vertical (directed toward God). If we love God, we will be just and merciful to other people (Mic. 6:8; James 1:26–27).” (Foundation Study Bible, Isaiah 58:6)

"We can only fully love when we think clearly about other people and don’t see or treat them as a means to fulfilling our desires or wishes." (Father Spyridon Baily)

“When people respond in love to each other, they cover over the sins or offenses that would otherwise come between them…Love for God is demonstrated by love for man (1 John 4:20).” (Foundation Study Bible, Proverbs 10:12, Matthew 25:32-40)

“Truly, natural and genuine love is the measure of authentic Christianity. Such love always indicates the way of our life in Christ.” (Dynamis 8/13/2018)

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