Something to remember when (surprise, surprise!) I realise I've entered into something with mixed motives, and that there's pride caught up with my desire to use my gifts in God's service. Where do my gifts come from? The prodigal God of joy and love. So is it wrong to find joy in using them? Where does my vainglory come from? That same good and holy joy twisted by the enemy (and I'm so often my own worst enemy!) so that I end up looking at the more unsavoury aspects of myself rather than at God. So, given their respective provenance, to which should I pay more attention and in which should I invest more energy - the gifts or my vainglory? (once I've recognised it, of course - it has much more destructive power if it remains unconscious. That's all part of the subtlety of discernment, which Bernard called rara avis - a "rare bird".)
I'm reminded of C S Lewis, in the person of Screwtape, writing of the true kind of humility God desires for us: God wants the human to be
"so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and
gratefully as in his neighbour's talents - or in a sunrise, an elephant or a waterfall. He wants each [human], in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (including himself) as glorious and excellent things."
The long run - and so it will have to be. But wouldn't it be wonderful to have such a vision?
Oh, and in case you didn't know - it was Bernard of Clairvaux who coined the phrase "love me, love my dog": Qui me amat, amet et canem meum.
And I've still illustrated this post with a mediaeval manuscript rather than a picture of a big, shaggy dog with a barrel of brandy round its neck!
|St Bernard in a 13th century manuscript, Wikipedia|