Monday, November 03, 2008

More elder brother activity

“Elder-brother obedience only leads to a slavish, begrudging compliance to the letter of the law. It is one thing to be honest and avoid lies for your sake, but it is another to do so for God's sake, for truth's sake, and for the love of the people around us. A person motivated by love rather than fear will not only obey the letter of the law, but will eagerly seek out new ways to carry out business with transparency and integrity.

“Honesty born of fear does nothing to root out the fundamental cause of evil in the world—the radical self-centeredness of the human heart. If anything, fear-based morality strengthens it, since ultimately elder brothers are being moral only for their own benefit. They may be kind to other and helpful to the poor, but at a deeper level they are doing it either so God will bless them, in the religious version of elder brotherness, or so they can think of themselves as virtuous, charitable persons, in the secular version of it...

Elder brothers may do good to others, but not out of delight in the deeds themselves or for the love of people or the pleasure of God. They are not really feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, they are feeding and clothing themselves. The heart's fundamental self-centeredness is not only intact but also nurtured by fear-based moralism and this can and does erupt in shocking ways. That is why so many churches are plagued with gossip and fighting. Or why so many moral people live apparently chaste lives and then suddenly fall int othe maost scandalous sins. Underneath the seeming unselfishness is great self-centeredness.

Religious and moral duties are a great burden, often a crushing one. Emotional frustration and inner boredom with life is repressed and denied. Elder brothers are under great pressure to appear, even to themselves, happy and content. This is the reason that sometimes highly moral elder brothers will blow up their lives and, to the shock of all who know them, throw off the chains of their obligations and begin living like younger brothers.”—Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, pages 60-61, 63

<idle musing>
Interesting take on it, isn't it? Maybe that is why we have seen so many high-profile people crash and burn of late. The pressure to perform must be enormous.
</idle musing>

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