LOVE AND THE SELF:Love for Our Neighbor, or Good will (Continued)

It is the goal that tells how we need to be our own neighbors and look after ourselves first. If the goal is to become richer than others solely for the sake of wealth or for pleasure or eminence or anything like that, it is a bad goal. We are loving ourselves, not our neighbor. If, however, the goal is to acquire wealth in order to be fit to be of service to our fellow citizens, our human community, our country, and our church, this is like seeking office for a like purpose, and we are loving our neighbor.

The actual goal of our actions makes us the people that we are because the goal is our love. For everyone, our first and final goal is what we love above all.

All this is about our neighbor. Now I need to discuss love for our neighbor, or goodwill.

Many people believe that love for their neighbor consists of giving to the poor, providing resources to the needy, and doing good to just anyone. Goodwill, though, is acting prudently and with the intent of having a good result. If we provide resources to malefactors who are poor or needy, we are doing harm to our neighbors by providing those resources, because those resources strengthen the malefactors in their evil and supply them with the means of harming others. It is different when we supply resources to good people.

Goodwill, though, reaches out far beyond the poor and needy. Goodwill is doing what is right in everything we do, doing our duty in every position of responsibility. A judge who does what is fair for the sake of fairness is engaged in goodwill. Judges who punish the guilty and acquit the innocent are engaged in goodwill because in doing so they are taking care of their fellow citizens and taking care of their country.

Priests who teach the truth and lead people toward goodness for the sake of what is true and good are engaged in goodwill.

If they do these things for the sake of themselves or for worldly purposes, though, they are not engaged in goodwill, because they are loving themselves rather than their neighbor.

It is the same for others whether they hold some office or not—children toward their parents, for example, and parents toward their children, servants toward their employers and employers toward their servants, subjects toward their monarch and monarchs toward their subjects. If they do their duty for the sake of duty and do what is fair for the sake of fairness, they are engaged in goodwill.

The reason this is a matter of love for our neighbor or goodwill is that everyone is our neighbor, as just noted, but in various ways. A smaller or larger community is more of a neighbor, the country is still more of a neighbor, the Lord’s kingdom still more, and the Lord is the neighbor above all. In the broadest sense the goodness that comes from the Lord is our neighbor, which means that what is honest and fair is as well. So people who do anything good because it is good and who do what is honest and fair because it is honest and fair are loving their neighbor and practicing goodwill. This is because their actions are prompted by a love of what is good, honest, and fair and therefore by a love for people in whom we find what is good, honest, and fair.

Goodwill, then, is an inner motivation that makes us want to do what is good and to do this without reward. Doing this is the joy of our life.

When we are doing good from an inner impulse there is goodwill in the very details of what we are thinking and saying, what we are intending and doing. We might say that with respect to our deeper natures, both we and angels are goodwill [itself] when what is good is our neighbor.

This shows how very far goodwill extends.

If people have love for themselves and the world as their goal, there is no way they can be focused on goodwill. They do not even know what goodwill is; and they completely fail to grasp the fact that intending and doing good for their neighbor without looking for payment is a heaven inside them—that inherent in this impulse there is just as much happiness as heaven’s angels have: more than words can convey. This is because people who selfishly love themselves and the world believe that if they were deprived of the joy they take in their display of prestige and wealth they would no longer have any joy at all, when in fact that would be the beginning of an infinitely transcendent heavenly joy. . . .

from Regeneration, Pages 14-16


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s