Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CS Lewis on love, feelings and the will

On Monday I mentioned that it's not just our beliefs that change our behaviour, but also our behaviour that changes our beliefs.

Actually, it's not so much that our behaviour changes our beliefs (change is from the heart) but that our behaviour strengthens our beliefs when it comes from a changed heart.

If a small, weak, faltering faith acts in love and obedience, this love and obedience will rebound and grow that faith. Faith and repentance grow stronger as they express themselves in love.

Here CS Lewis says something similar: that the choice to love grows the feeling or attitude of love.

Love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will ...

Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. ...

This same spiritual law works terribly in the opposite direction. ... The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become — and so on in a vicious circle for ever.

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible. ...

On the whole, God's love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will. If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God'. He will give us feelings of love if He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right. But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

from CS Lewis Mere Christianity chapter 9

images are from Divine Harvester and ' B a r c a at flickr

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