Love, and Do What You Like
. . . charity is the root and substance of morality, and where there is little charity there will be much avoidable evil. All this has been summed up in Augustine’s formula: “Love, and do what you like.” —Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy
The love that Augustine is referring to is not limited. In fact love that is limited is not love at all, but craving or attraction or some other emotion. True love cannot be divided. We cannot reserve our love for one part of creation and deny it to the rest. We either share our love with all or with none.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar . . . —1 John 4:20a, ESV
Selfishness is the attempt to love only oneself. The more that we realizes how everything in the universe is connected, the less we will try to limit our love to only ourselves or to only our close friends or relations.
The love that Augustine is referring to is not a blind love. True love desires to understand others and learn what will benefit them. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he said,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” —Matthew 22:37-40, ESV
When we love, our heart and soul and mind are connected. When we feel the excitement of being “in love” we can feel that we have lost our mind, but the love that maintains a relationship over time needs the contributions of the mind. The command to love God and others covers all other commands: “Love, and do what you like.” The only problem with this formula is that it is hard to love without reservation everyone that we meet. Many people challenge our ability to love. People can hurt us when we are vulnerable. Opening ourselves to love others can make us vulnerable to disappointment and hurt.
Love is fragile, you hide it from the light —Mick Jagger
The reason why we try to hide love or save love for only certain people, is that there are so many people who would take advantage of us and destroy the love that we cherish. When our love has been devalued or abused over and over, we sometimes give up on love altogether:
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. —Matthew 24:12, ESV
Even though we may not be able to fully express our love in a difficult environment, we can maintain the “pilot light” of love until such a time when conditions are favorable.
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, —Matthew 13:41, ESV
When conditions become favorable, the love that people now guard will be released and will be joyfully shared:
Love seeks no cause beyond itself and no fruit; it is its own fruit, its own enjoyment. I love because I love . . . When God loves, he only desires to be loved, knowing that love will render all those who love Him happy. —St. Bernard
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! —Psalms 118:1, ESV