Love of self is the root of all evil

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Self is the ground of all blessing

Our unique personal existence is God's Original Gift. He created each one of us in His own image and likeness (Gen 1:27-28).

Self is what we give to God and to each other in love. There is no gift that we can give that is greater than the gift of self. I think that this was God's frequent complaint against the Temple sacrifices--His People thought that they could please Him by giving him animals instead of giving Him their hearts.

Jesus uses the healthy love of self as the standard by which to determine whether we truly love others: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" (Mk 12:31).

In God, there are three Selves who continually give themselves to the others in the dance from which all other dances are derived (perichoresis, circumincession). It is in having a self that we most resemble God; it is in putting our self first that we break our relationship with God. It is self above all else that we must lose in order to find our true self and to which must die in order to live. Music is not the true "food of love"; love is. "For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."

Self-centeredness is the root of all evil

Love of Money?

St. Paul says that "love of money is the root of all evils":

"Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains" (1 Tim 6:9-10).

This is an exaggeration (hyperbole). A more accurate translation might be: "Love of money is a root of all [kinds of] evils." There is no "the" before the Greek word for "root" (ῥίζα).

ῥίζα γὰρ πάντων τῶν κακῶν ἐστιν ἡ φιλαργυρία

The Catholic tradition does not take this verse literally.

It may well be that love of money was the cause of the all of the sins that Paul was thinking of while writing to Timothy, but it does not cover the whole range of sins.

We see seven deadly sins, not one. Love of money (greed) is just one of them:

  • Pride
  • Greed
  • Lust
  • Anger
  • Gluttony
  • Envy
  • Sloth

"Love of money" (greed) does not explain the sin of the angels nor the sin of Adam and Eve.

Love of money is rooted in love of self.

It is love of self that explains all other sins.

2 Tim 1-9

2 People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious,

3 callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good,

4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

5 as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them.

6 For some of these slip into homes and make captives of women weighed down by sins, led by various desires,

7 always trying to learn but never able to reach a knowledge of the truth.

8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so they also oppose the truth—people of depraved mind, unqualified in the faith.

9 But they will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be plain to all, as it was with those two.

Catechism, #398
In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully "divinized" by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to "be like God", but "without God, before God, and not in accordance with God".[1]

Charity covers a multitude of sins

"But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you" (Lk 11:41).

Love of Self

Self is what destroys our relationship to God and to our beloved--if we put self first and say "My will be done" instead of "Thy will be done."

Love of self is what set the fallen angels against God. Angels are pure spirits who have no use for money. Love of money cannot be the cause of their evildoing.

Adam and Eve had no money to gain by sin or to lose by obeying God. Their choice was strictly between self-love and love of God.

Love of self lies behind the love of money. We value money as a means to an end--"money" represents all the things that can be done with it. The deceptive charm of the things that money can buy is the promise, "If you had me, I would make you happy." The quest for happiness, therefore, is deeper than the quest for money.

"The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: 'For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man' (Mt 15:19-20). But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds" (CCC #1853).

Seeking happiness is good. God designed us to desire eternal happiness with Him and with all of His angels and saints. Our desire for happiness leads us astray when we treat something other than God as if it were God.

Building on self is building on sand. Our faith is in God, not in self.

God does not tempt us

James 1:13

13 No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one.

14 Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

15 Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.

Eph 2:1-3

1 You were dead in your transgressions and sins

2 in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.

3 All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.

References

  1. St. Maximus the Confessor, Ambigua: PG 91,1156C; cf. Gen 3:5.

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