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Loving prayer

November 23, 2015

“If ever there was a time in the history of Christendom when God’s people needed to entreat the throne of grace for an increase and an abounding in love, it is surely now. The exercise and manifestation of this cardinal grace is at an exceedingly low ebb. Yea, things are in such a deplorable state today that many of God’s own people hold quite a wrong idea as to the nature and fruits of love. Most of them misconstrue natural affability and temperamental geniality for love. A hearty handshake, a warm welcome, may be had at the world’s clubs and social centers where Christ is not even professed! The love for which the apostle here prayed was a holy, spiritual, and supernatural love. Spiritual love proceeds from a spiritual nature and is attracted by the sight of the divine image in the saints. “Every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (1Jn 5:1).

Many love particular Christians because they find them to be sweet-tempered or generous-hearted, but that is merely natural and not spiritual love. If we would love the saints spiritually we must disregard what they are temperamentally by nature, and contemplate them as the objects and subjects of God’s love, loving them for what we see of Him in them. Only thus shall we be able to rise above individual peculiarities and personal infirmities, and value them with a true spiritual affection. This does not mean that we shall ignore their offenses or condone their sins (Le 19:17). On the other hand, often what we regard as “slights” from them is due to our own pride. We are hurt because we do not receive the notice which we consider is our due.

Neither the reality nor the depth of Christian love is to be measured by honeyed words or endearing expressions. Actions speak louder than words. Spiritual love always aims at the good of its object. It is exercised in edifying conversation, in seeking to strengthen and confirm faith, exalt God’s Word, and promote piety. The more another magnifies Christ the more should he be endeared to us. We do not mean mere glib talk about Christ, but that overflowing of the heart toward Him which compels the mouth to speak of Him. We should love the saints for the truth’s sake, for being unashamed to avow their faith in such a day as this. Those who reflect most of the image of Christ and carry about with them most of His fragrance should be the ones we love most. Love for the brethren is ever proportioned to our love for the Lord Himself, which at once explains why the former is at such a low ebb.

Love to God has waned! “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,… soul and… strength” comes before “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” But the love of material things and the cares of this world have chilled the souls of many toward God. Our affections must be set steadfastly upon the Head of the Church before they will wax warm to its members. When the Lord is given His rightful place in our hearts, His redeemed will also be given theirs. Then love will not be confined to that narrow ecclesiastical circle in which our lot is cast; it will embrace the entire household of faith. Then we shall have “love unto all the saints” (Eph 1:15), and that will be evidenced by “supplication for all saints” (Eph 6:18) — those in the four corners of the earth whom we have never seen.”
-Arthur Pink

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