No sooner do we believe that God loves us than there is an impulse to believe that He does so, not because He is Love, but because we are intrinsically loveable. The Pagans obeyed this impulse unabashed; a good man was ‘dear to the gods’ because he was good.
We, being better taught, resort to subterfuge. Far be it from us to think we have virtues for which God could love us. But then, how magnificently we have repented! . . . We next offer our own humility to God’s admiration. Surely He’ll like that! Or if not that, our clear-sighted and humble recognition that we still lack humility.
Thus, depth beneath depth and subtlety within subtlety, there remains some lingering idea of our own, our very own, attractiveness. It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realise for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little–however little–native luminosity?
–The Four Loves, 180; emphasis original
Hmm … so very true.