The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis– letter 26

It should come as no surprise that Screwtape is so eager to destroy the growing relationship between ‘the patient’ and his girlfriend. In Chapter 26 he continues to seek opportunity within the ‘good’ God has gifted the couple. Chapter 26 can be downloaded here:

Screwtape sees an opportunity in ‘Unselfishness’ within the patient’s relationship. It allows the possibility of the sowing seeds of future bitterness, by assuming the other party to be selfish or unappreciative of the sacrifices of ‘Unselfishness’. Underlying this facade there is a base ‘self-righteousness’ which grasps for the moral high ground on the basis of whatever has been forgone in ‘Unselfishness’.

On the other hand, love (‘charity’, as C.S. Lewis defines it) freely surrenders itself without expectation of reward. Of course, Paul sees such love as an essential within the life of the Christian community:

1Cor. 13:1    If I speak in the tongues  of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,  but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8    Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13