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Faith working by Love
‘In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love. Through love be servants one to another; for the whole law is fulfilled in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’—Gal. 5:6, 13
In Christ Jesus no external privilege avails. The Jew might boast of his circumcision, the token of God’s covenant. The Gentile might boast of his uncircumcision, with an entrance into the Kingdom free from the Jewish law. Neither availed aught in the Kingdom of heaven—nothing but, as we have it in 6:15, a new creature, in which old things are passed away and all things become new. Or, as we have it in our text—as a description of the life of the new creature—nothing but faith working by love, that makes us in love serve one another.
What a perfect description of the new life. First you have faith, as the root, planted and rooted in Christ Jesus. Then 62 as its aim you have works, as the fruit. And then between the two, as the tree, growing downwards into the root and bearing the fruit upward, you have love, with the life-sap flowing through it by which the root brings forth the fruit, Of faith we need not speak here. We have seen how believing on Jesus does the greater works; how the faith in the new creation, and in God working in us, is the secret of all work. Nor need we speak here of works—our whole book aims at securing for them the place in every heart and life that they have in God’s heart and in His Word.
We have here to study specially the great truth that all work is to be love, that faith cannot do its work but through love, that no works can have any worth but as they come of love, and that love alone is the sufficient strength for all the work we have to do.
The power for work is love.—It was love that moved God to all His work in creation and redemption. It was love that enabled Christ as man to work and to suffer as He did. It is love that can inspire us with the power of a self-sacrifice that seeks not its own, but is ready to live and die for others. It is love that gives us the patience that refuses to give up the unthankful or the 63 hardened. It is love that reaches and overcomes the most hopeless. Both in ourselves and those for whom we labour love is the power for work. Let us love as Christ loved us.
The power for love is faith.—Faith roots its life in the life of Christ Jesus, which is all love. Faith knows, even when we cannot realise fully, the wonderful gift that has been given into our heart in the Holy Spirit shedding abroad God’s love there. A spring in the earth may often be hidden or stopped up. Until. it is opened the fountain cannot flow out. Faith knows that there is a fountain of love within that can spring up into eternal life, that can flow out as rivers of living waters. It assures us that we can love, that we have a Divine power to love within us, as an unalienable endowment of our new nature.
The power to exercise and show love is work.—There is no such thing as power in the abstract; it only acts as it is exercised. Power in repose cannot be found or felt. This is specially true of the Christian graces, hidden as they are amid the weakness of our human nature. It is only by doing that you know that you have; a grace must be acted ere we can rejoice in its possession. This is the unspeakable blessedness of work, and makes it so essential 64 to a healthy Christian life that it wakens up and strengthens love, and makes us partakers of its joy.
Faith working by love.—In Christ Jesus nothing avails but this. Workers for God! believe this. Practise it. Thank God much for the fountain of eternal love opened within you. Pray fervently and frequently that God may strengthen you with might by the power of His Spirit in your inner man, so that, with Christ dwelling in you, you may be rooted and grounded in love. And live then, your daily life, in your own home, in all your intercourse with men, in all your work, as a life of Divine love. The ways of love are so gentle and heavenly, you may not learn them all at once. But be of good courage, only believe in the power that worketh in you, and yield yourself to the work of love: it will surely gain the victory.
Faith working by love.—In Christ Jesus nothing avails but this. Let me press home this message, too, on those who have never yet or only just begun to think of working for God. Come and listen.
You owe everything to God’s love. The salvation you have received is all love. God’s one desire is to fill you with His love. For His own satisfaction, for your own happiness, for the saving of men. Now, I 65 ask you—Will you not accept God’s wonderful offer to be filled with His love? Oh! come and give up heart and life to the joy and the service of His love. Believe that the fountain of love is within you; it will begin to flow as you make a channel for it by deeds of love. Whatever work for God you try to do, seek to put love into it. Pray for the spirit of love. Give yourself to live a life of love; to think how you can love those around you, by praying for them, by serving them, by labouring for their welfare, temporal and spiritual. Faith working by love in Christ Jesus, this alone availeth much.
1. ‘Faith, Hope, Love: the greatest of these is Love.’ There is no faith or hope in God. But God is love. The most Godlike thing is love.
2. Love is the nature of God. When it is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit love becomes our new nature. Believe this, give yourself over to it, and act it out.
3. Love is God’s power to do His work. Love was Christ’s power. To work for God pray earnestly to be filled with love to souls!
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