Saint Augustine defined sin as disordered love: giving one’s heart too much to things which are not worthy of it, and too little to that which is.
Virtue, conversely, he defined as rightly ordered love.
It’s easy to pay lip service to having our loves prioritized in the right order. But it isn’t our words which reveal where our hearts lie, but our actions.
If you say you love God above all, but spend more time looking at Instagram than reading scriptures, you really love social media more than God.
If you say you love your child more than your phone, but look at your screen instead of her face when she talks to you, you really love your phone more than your child.
If you say you love your family more than your job, but keep putting in unnecessary overtime hours at the office, you really love work more than your family.
If you say you’ll text someone, pray for someone, follow-up with someone, and then neglect to do so, you really love the appearance of concern/compassion/interest, more than their realities.
What you truly love is revealed in how you spend your time, allocate your attention, and make decisions.
How we act in specific situations, springs from the degree to which we love certain virtues in general. When you love courage, integrity, and loyalty more than ease, popularity, and outward success, you act in ways that are brave, honest, and true.
Augustine believed that human misery was a function of loving lesser goods more than greater goods, giving our hearts to the finite over the infinite. But the importance of how we order our loves extends beyond our temporal happiness, to who we ultimately become. For, as James K.A. Smith has said, “You are what you love.”