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Silver Plating Our Motives

I know of no other sure-fire way of silver plating our motives than to attach the golden rule to them. You see, if I can show that what I want to do is for others and not myself, then certainly no one can find fault with me. In fact, I think we do all manner of mental gymnastics to convince ourselves that we're acting for other's good; therefore, we can proceed as passion desires.

Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, God knows what is under that silver plating and is not fooled by our tomfoolery.

He sees through us when we serve in the hopes of being repaid, quite literally doing to others in the hopes that others will return the favor. He's not taken in when we say we don't want to hurt our witness when in fact we're really managing our self image. He knows when we project ourselves onto others, believing them to be just like us and thus failing to actually see them or understand their pains. And God knows exactly what we're up to when we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of duty, ignoring our deepest longings in the hopes of satisfying our conscience's demands to be perfect.

There is no fooling God. We, on the other hand, are quite easily fooled, especially if facing the facts means we have to die an inner death. Nobody wants that. We'd much rather convince ourselves we're okay. But selfishness can hide in several forms; I count three. Those who are selfish on the front side. Those who are selfish on the back side. And those who are asleep. 

People who are selfish on the front side know what they want and just take it. Think the prodigal son. Those who are selfish on the back side don't take what they want because they know that would be selfish, so they serve and give but always in a begrudging, complaining sort of way, hoping they'll get repaid for their labor. Think the prodigal son's brother. Lastly, there are the sleepers who don't really know what they want or need. They've put themselves to sleep, so to speak, so as to not be swayed by their needs and wants. Life feels easier to them that way.

If I had to guess, I'd say Enneagram's 3, 6, 1 and 9's are most likely the sleepers. Enneagram 4, 5, 7 and 8's are most likely to be selfish on the front side, and Enneagram 6, 1, 9 and 2 selfish on the back side. But I'm just guessing here.

Of course, there's God's way too, which is to stop trying to convince ourselves that our human passions are actually for someone else's good. And by passions I don't mean our love of painting or sea breezes or Italian love songs. I mean our deepest longings for justice and peace and joy and security. None of these align with the good of others unless we turn them over one by one to God and let him fill them.

We cannot want another's good so long as we are still trying to survive our planet-earth experience solo, and that is because other people's very existence is a threat to ours: other people take our resources, they smear our reputation, they threaten our safety, they take our power, they don't treat us right, and their alternative versions of goodness mocks ours. No, there can be no love for one another while we attempt to make it through each day on our own resources.

Self-sufficiency in this case equals lovelessness.

Self surrender, on the other hand, means everything we need will be given to us—including a deep-hearted love for others.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38


M. Thompson said…
Good food for thought, Abby, as I remembe that the tarnished expensive silverware is waiting to be polished. I will think of the silver platting motives that you brought to my mind.

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