I have been trying to learn to love for a long time. I’ve wanted to love properly, and have spent hours thinking about how this is done. Practically, I haven’t followed through with simple acts of sacrifice that are universally viewed as acts of love. Without acts to follow my intended love, I am not loving. Christ is our example. He did not just think, speak, meditate. He acted. St. John, St. Peter, St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis. They are our role models. Like Jesus, they emptied themselves, pouring out love on others: sacrificing, suffering.

My question now: If I am sacrificing so that I can ascend, am I doing the right act for the wrong reason?

My first reaction to this question is to say, yes, I am sinning. But why does Christianity constantly remind us of our reward. Isn’t that the substance of hope? Should we look ahead to the glorification of ourselves as a means to get through the suffering and sacrificing?
More than anything, I want to be happy. I would go through anything to be truly happy. I believe that only God can fulfill this happiness, for He is the source of my being. I praise the Lord and worship him, for he is Good. I need him, but he wants me. The love for ourselves – the desire for happiness – can be transferred to another.

What if I wanted my friend to be happy more than I wanted myself to be happy? I would do anything to make them happy, including laying down my life for them. This self-sacrificing love is godly. It begins with empathy and it ends with action. I will let another person hurt me to show my love for them because I value their happiness over my own. Hatred is death. Love is life.

Fake self-sacrifice as a means to elevate oneself is not love. True love puts others above oneself. “Glaucon and I” went down to Piraeus but “we” went up to Athens. Christ made himself nothing, but is highly exalted – the name above all names. And, united to Christ, we will ascend if we follow his example.