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‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.’ -- John 13:34,35
‘Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: love therefore is the fulfilling of the law.’ -- Rom. 13:10
In the word of Micah, in the previous section, righteousness was the first thing, to love mercy the second, that God demands. Righteousness stood more in the foreground in the Old Testament: it is in the New Testament that it is first seen that love is supreme. Utterances to this effect are not difficult to find. It is in the advent of Jesus that the love of God is first revealed; that the new, the eternal life, is first given; that we become children of the Father, and brethren of one another. On this ground the Lord can then, for the first time, speak of the New Commandment -- the commandment of brotherly love. Righteousness is required not less in the New Testament than in the Old. (Matt 5:6,17,20; 6:33) Yet the burden of the New Testament is, that power has been given us for a love that in early days was impossible. (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 4:11; 13:34)
Let every Christian take it deeply to heart, that in the first and the great commandment, the new commandment given by Jesus at His departure, the peculiar characteristic of a disciple of Jesus is brotherly love. And let him with his whole heart yield himself to Him, to obey that command. For the right exercise of this brotherly love, one must take heed to more than one thing.
Love to the brethren arises from the love of the Father. By the Holy Spirit, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, the wonderful love of the Father is unveiled to us, so that His love becomes the life and the joy of our soul. Out of this fountain of the love of God to us springs our love to Him. (Rom. 5:5; 1 John 4:19) And our love to Him works naturally love to the brethren. (Eph. 4:2,6; 5:1,2; 1 John 3:1; 4:7,20; 5:1) Do not attempt then to fulfil the commandment of brotherly love of yourselves: you are not in a position to do this. But believe that the Holy Spirit, who is in you to make known the love of God to you, also certainly enables you to yield this love. Never say: I feel no love; I do not feel as if I can forgive this man. Feeling is not the rule of your duty, but the command, and the faith that God gives power to obey the command. In obedience to the Father, with the choice of your will, and in faith that the Holy Spirit gives you power, begin to say: I will love him; I do love him. The feeling will follow the faith. Grace gives power for all that the Father asks of you. (Matt. 5:44,45; Gal 2:20; 1 Thess. 3:12,13; 5:24; Phil. 4:13; 1 Pet. 1:22)
Brotherly love has its measure and rule in the love of Jesus. ‘This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.’ (Luke 22:26,27; John 13:14,15,34; Col. 2:13) The eternal life that works in us is the life of Jesus; it knows no other law than what we see in Him; it works with power in us what it wrought in Him. Jesus Himself lives in us and loves in and through us: we must believe in the power of this love in us, and in that faith love as He loved. O, do believe that this is true salvation, to love even as Jesus loves.
Brotherly love must be in deed and in truth. (Matt. 12:50; 25:40; Rom. 13:10; 1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 5:6; Jas. 2:15,16; 1 John 3:16-18) It is not mere feeling: faith working by love is what has power in Christ. It manifests itself in all the dispositions that are enumerated in the word of God. Contemplate its glorious image in 1 Cor. 13:4-7. Mark all the glorious encouragements to gentleness, to longsuffering, to mercy. (Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:2,32; Phil. 2:2,3; Col. 3:12; 2 Thess. 1:3) In all your conduct, let it be seen that the love of Christ dwells in you. Let your love be a helpful, self-sacrificing love, like that of Jesus. Hold all children of God, however sinful or perverse they may be, fervently dear. Let love to them teach you to love all men. (Luke 6:32,35; 1 Pet. 1:22; 2 Pet. 1:7) Let your household, and the Church, and the world, see in you one with whom ‘love is greatest;’ one in whom the love of God has a full dwelling, a free working.
Christian, God is love. Jesus is the gift of this love, to bring love to you, to transplant you into that life of godlike love. Live in that faith, and you shall not complain that you have no power to love: the love of the Spirit shall be your power and your life.
Beloved Saviour, I discern more clearly that the whole of the new life is a life in love. Thou Thyself art the Son of God’s love, the gift of His love, come to introduce us into His love, and give us a dwelling there. And the Holy Spirit is given to shed abroad the love of God in our hearts, to open a spring out of which shall stream love to Thee, and to the brethren, and to all mankind. Lord, here am I, one redeemed by love, to love for it, and in its might to love all. Amen.
1. Those who reject the word of God sometimes say that it is of no moment what we believe, if we but have love, and so they are for making love the one condition of salvation. In their zeal against this view, the orthodox party have sometimes presented faith in justification, as if love were not of so much importance. This is likely to be very dangerous. God is love. His Son is the gift, the bringer, of His love to us. The Spirit sheds abroad the love of God in the heart. The New Life is a life in love. Love is the greatest thing. Let it be the chief element in our life: true love, that, namely, which is known in the keeping of God’s commandments. (See 1 John 3:10,23,24; 5:2)
2. Do not wonder that I have said to you that you must love, although you do not feel the least love. Not the feeling, but the will is your power: it is not in your feeling, but in faith, that the Spirit in you is the power of your will to work in you all that the Father bids you. Therefore, although you feel absolutely no love to your enemy, say in the obedience of faith: Father, I love him; in faith in the hidden working of the Spirit in my heart, I do love him.
3. Pray, think not that this is love, if you wish no evil to any one, or if you should be willing to help, if he were in need. No: love is much more: love is love. Love is the disposition with which God addressed you when you were His enemy, and afterwards ran to you with tender longing to bless you.
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