Augustine of Hippo was one of the early church fathers who lived in the late 4th century/early 5th century AD. Even to this day, he is one of the most influential of the church fathers with both the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions revering him for
his Godly wisdom and insight. Of course he did not get everything one hundred
percent right, but he did hit the proverbial “nail on the head” with more than
a single topic! One of the things that he wrote about was the concept of
What he said about this kind of love is that we tend to expect too much from the people or objects that we love. This is something that I can relate to everyday and really need to be reminded of on a regular basis.
Augustine said that the objects that we tend to love are not invalid in themselves. A good example is my wife. I really love my wife a lot and that should be a good thing. Paul commands husbands to love their wives – and so should all husbands (Ephesians 5:25).
However, the problem is not the loving, but rather what we expect from the
loving. Do we expect anything in return? Or is it unconditional love? A love
that does not expect a return…
Another example is money. We know that it is not a Biblical teaching to “love money”. Paul says to Timothy that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10). Yet, if we are really honest with ourselves – do we not really love money in a disorderly way? We
have an expectation of money which it cannot possibly fulfill. We think that a
sufficient amount of money will make us happy. If only I had a bigger income,
or a bigger and better car, or a bigger house or whatever the case may be –
then I would be happy and at peace. We always seem to think that if we have
enough material wealth we will find peace and happiness.
What Augustine is alluding to is that we are infinite beings. We live by faith in the hope of life everlasting in the presence of God. We are not made for this world; therefore nothing of this world is able to give us peace or happiness. In fact, John warns us not to
love the world or anything in the world (1 John 2:15). This is a strong
statement to make – after all, we live in this world. However, Augustine read a
little bit further and got an insight that many of us still miss today. In
verse 17 he says, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does
the will of God lives forever.” (NIV)
The point that he is making is that we can only find pure happiness and peace in the Prince of Peace; the One who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden
is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30: NIV)
(Listen to a sermon on this topic at The Fellowship)Tweet