Can we abide in His Love at all times?
The fruit of the Spirit is love.
We have addressed the great need for believers to be brought together and united in one spirit and one body. We said that one of the great reasons why God cannot bless is the lack of love in the church. When the body is divided, strength is diminished.
Only when believers stand as one body, one before God in the fellowship of love, one toward another in deep affection, one before the world in a love that the world can see—only then will we have power to secure the blessing we ask from God. Remember, a vessel that is cracked or broken into many pieces cannot be filled. You can take a piece of a broken vessel and dip out a little water with it, but if you want the vessel to be full and useful, it must be whole. That is literally true of Christ’s church, and if there is one thing we still must pray for today, it is this: “Lord melt us together into one by the power of your holy Spirit; let your holy Spirit, which at Pentecost made them all one heart and one soul, do its blessed work among us! Praise God, we can love each other in a divine love, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” We must yield ourselves to love and the holy Spirit will come; receive the Spirit and God will teach us to love more – even to “love our enemies”!
The reason, of course, that the fruit of the Spirit is love is because God is love. And what does that mean? It is the very nature and being of God to delight in communicating Himself. God knows nothing of selfishness. He keeps nothing to Himself. God’s nature is to be always giving. In the sun, the moon, and the stars, in every flower you see and smell, in every bird of the air, every fish of the sea. God communicates life to His creatures. Even the angels around His throne, the seraphim and cherubim, who are flames of fire, receive their brightness and their glory from the presence of God. God delights to pour out His love on us—His redeemed children. From the beginning God had His only begotten Son. The Father gave him all things, and nothing that God had was held back. God is love.
When the holy Spirit comes to us and to others, will it be less a Spirit of love than it is in God?
It cannot be; God cannot change His nature. The Spirit of God is love, and the fruit of the Spirit is love.
Love has always been the one great need of mankind; it was the thing that Christ’s redemption accomplished: to restore love to this world. When man sinned, selfishness triumphed—he sought self instead of God. Adam at once accused God of having led him astray through the “woman you gave me.’ Love to God had gone, love to man was lost. Of the first two sons of Adam, one became a murderer of his brother. Does that not teach us that sin had robbed the world of love? The history of the world has been of love lost! The Lord Jesus Christ came from heaven as the Son of God’s love. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” God’s Son demonstrated what love is. He lived a life of love on earth in fellowship with his disciples, in compassion for the poor and miserable, in love even to his enemies, and he died the death of love. And when he went to heaven, he sent down the Spirit of love to banish selfishness and envy and pride, and bring the love of God into the hearts of men. The fruit of the Spirit is love.
And what was the preparation for the promise of the holy Spirit? That promise is found in John 16. But remember what precedes it in the thirteenth chapter. Before Christ promised the holy Spirit, he gave a new commandment and said wonderful things about it. One thing was, “Even as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” To them his dying love was to be the only law of their conduct and interaction with each other. What a message to those fishermen, to those men full of pride and selfishness!
“Learn to love each other,” said Christ, “as I have loved you.” And by the grace of God they did it. When Pentecost came they were of one heart and one soul. Christ did it for them.
And then he said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” You all know what it is to wear a badge. Christ said to his disciples, in effect: “I give you a badge, and that badge is love; that is to be your mark. It is the only thing in heaven or on earth by which men can know me.” Should we not fear that love has fled from the earth? If we were to ask the world if it has seen us wear the badge of love, what would its answer be? As the world views the church of Christ, can it find a place where there is no quarrelling and separation? Let us ask God with one heart that we may wear the badge of love. God is able to give it.
Nothing but love can expel and conquer our selfishness. Self is the great curse, whether in its relation to God or toward others—thinking only of ourselves and seeking our own. Self is our greatest curse. But, praise God, Christ came to redeem us from self. We sometimes talk about deliverance from the self-life, and we should praise God for every word that can be said to help us. Sadly, some people think deliverance from the self-life means that they will have no more troubles serving God. And they forget that deliverance from the self-life means to be a vessel overflowing with love to everyone every day.
Here we have the reason why so many people pray for the power of the holy Spirit and yet receive so little of it. They pray for power for their work and for blessing, but they have not prayed for power for full deliverance from self. That means not only the righteous self in relationship with God but also the unloving self in relationship with men. But there is deliverance. “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” We bring you the glorious promise that Christ is able to fill our hearts with love.
Many of us try hard to love. We even force ourselves to love. Not that it is entirely wrong—perhaps it is better than nothing. But the result is usually sad. Continual failure is its fruit. The reason is simply this: Our own efforts at love are not the same as having the holy Spirit pour God’s love into our hearts. How often we have limited the text “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.” It is often understood in the sense that it means the love of God to me. But what a limitation! That is only the beginning. It means the love of God in its entirety, in its fullness as an indwelling power, a love of God to me that leaps back to Him in love, and overflows to others in love—God’s love to me, my love to God, and my love to others. These three aspects are one; you cannot separate them. Believe that the love of God can remain in us at all times.
How little we have understood this. Why is a lamb always gentle? Because it is its very nature to be gentle. Does it cost the lamb any trouble or effort to be gentle? Does a lamb study to be gentle? Why does it come so easy? It is its nature. Likewise, it is the nature of a wolf to trouble the sheep. Because that is its nature. It does not have to summon up its courage; it is inherent.
So how can I learn to love? I cannot really learn or know it until the Spirit of God fills my heart with God’s love and I begin to long for His love in a very different sense from which I have sought it so selfishly: as comfort and joy, happiness or pleasure to myself. I cannot until I begin to learn that “God is love,” and claim and receive it as an indwelling power for self-sacrifice. I cannot until I begin to see that my glory, my blessedness, is to be like God and like Christ in yielding everything in myself for others.
May God teach us that! Oh, the divine blessedness of the love with which the holy Spirit can fill our hearts! “The fruit of the Spirit is love.”
When we speak about the consecrated life, we often speak about disposition. Disposition is a mirror of whether the love of Christ is filling our heart. Many find it easier in the church or in a prayer meeting to be holy and happy than in the daily life with their families and co-workers – we find it easier to be holy and happy outside the home than in it. Where is the love of God? Our Heavenly Father has prepared a wonderful redemption in Christ and part of it is to make something supernatural of us. Have we learned to desire it, to ask for it, and to expect it in its fullness?
Then there is the tongue: Just think what liberty many believers give to their tongues. They say, “I have a right to think and say what I like.” When they speak about each other, when they speak about their neighbors, when they speak about other believers, how often sharp remarks are used! God keep me from saying anything that would be unloving; God shut my mouth if I am not speaking in tender love. But what I am saying is true. How often though believers are banded together in work, they are still full of sharp criticism, rash judgment, hasty opinions, unloving words, secret contempt for each other, and hidden condemnation of others. Just as a mother’s love covers her children, delights in them, and has the tenderest compassion for them despite their failures, so there should be in the heart of every believer such an unconditional love toward every brother and sister in Christ. Have you aimed for it? Sought it? Pleaded for it? Jesus Christ said, “As I have loved you … love one another?” He did not place it among the other commandments, but He said in effect, “This is a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.”
What is the reason that the holy Spirit cannot come in power? Remember the comparison we used in speaking of the vessel. We can dip a broken piece of the vessel into water, but if a vessel is to be full it must be unbroken. Wherever believers come together to whatever church or mission or ministry they belong, they must love one another intensely or the Spirit of God cannot do its work. We talk about grieving the Spirit of God by worldliness, ritualism, formality, error, and indifference, but the greatest thing that grieves God’s Spirit is a lack of love among His children. Let us ask God to search our hearts regarding a love like His.
Why are we taught that the fruit of the Spirit is love? Because the Spirit of God has come to make our daily life a demonstration of divine power and a revelation of what God can do for His children. Think of the church at large. What divisions! Think of the different denominations. Take the question of holiness, of the cleansing blood, of the baptism of the Spirit—what differences are caused among dear believers by such questions! That there should be differences of opinion should not trouble us. But how often hate, bitterness, contempt, separation, and unloving action have surrounded the holiest truths of God’s Word! It was so in the time of the Reformation between the Lutheran and Calvinistic churches. What bitterness there was then in regard to the Lord’s Supper, which was meant to be the bond of union between all believers! And so, down through the ages, the very dearest truths of God have become mountains that have separated us. If we want to pray in power, if we desire the holy Spirit to come in power and to be poured out, we must covenant with God that we will love one another with a heavenly love. Are you ready for it? Only true love is large enough to take in all God’s children, even the most unloving, unlovable, unworthy, unbearable, and trying. If our absolute surrender to God was genuine, then it must mean absolute surrender to the divine love to fill us; to be a servant of love is to love every child of God around us.
We need love to bind us to each other. Have we not often undertaken a great deal of work just as worldly men undertake the work of philanthropy, from a natural spirit of compassion for others? Do we not often undertake Christian work because our minister or friend asks us to, or because we see the need and respond out of duty or obligation and yet without having had a baptism of love?
People often ask, “What is the baptism of fire”? The fire of everlasting love that consumed the sacrifice on Calvary. The baptism of love is what the church needs; to receive it we must begin at once to get down upon our faces before God in confession and plead, “Lord, let love from heaven flow down into my heart. I am yielding my life to pray and live as one who has surrendered himself so that everlasting love can dwell in me and fill me.” Yes, if the love of God were in our hearts, what a difference it would make! There are many who say, “I work for Christ, and I feel I could work much more, but I do not have the gift; I do not know how or where to begin, I do not know what I can do.” Brother, sister, ask God to baptize you with the Spirit of love, and love will find its way. Love is a fire that will burn through every difficulty. God fill us with love!
Without love we cannot do our work. May God baptize our elders, our brothers and sisters and our young people with compassionate love.
It is only love that can enable us for the work of intercession. Love must enable us for our work. And do you know what is the hardest and yet the most important work? It is the work of intercession, the work of going to God and taking time to come before Him. A man may be a diligent believer, an eager pastor, a faithful follower, but how often must he confess that he knows very little of what it is to wait upon God! May God give us that great gift of an intercessory spirit, a spirit of prayer and supplication! Are you willing to make it a habit? Do not to let another day pass without praying for God’s people!
Unfortunately, there are believers who think very little of true intercession. We see prayer meetings where they pray for their own members, for their own trials and troubles, but barely reach beyond their own small group, let alone the world. Take time to pray for the church citywide, nationwide, and worldwide. It is only right to pray for the world as we have already said. God help us to pray more for them. It is right to pray for those in witnessing work, for unbelievers to have their eyes and ears opened. The overall condition of Christ’s church is indescribably lacking. Plead for God’s people that He would visit them, plead for each other, and for all believers who are trying to work for God. Let love fill your heart. Ask Christ to pour love into you every day. Receive the holy Spirit’s instruction: I am set apart to the holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love. God help us to understand it.
We have often mentioned the place of waiting upon God. May God grant that we learn day by day to wait more expectantly upon Him. If you wait upon God only for yourself, the power to do so will soon be lost; but give yourself to the ministry and the love of intercession, and pray more for God’s people around you, for the Spirit of love in yourself and in them, and for the work of God with which all are connected. The answer will surely come, and your waiting upon God will be the source of untold blessing and power.
How shall we conclude? We must go to God again in intercession. Let us plead in faith that God may pour out a spirit of love upon us. Do you lack love to confess before God? Then make confession and say to Him, O Lord, my lack of heart, my lack of love—I confess it. And then, as you cast that lack at his feet, believe that the blood cleanses you, that Jesus comes in his mighty cleansing, saving power to deliver you, and that he will give God’s holy Spirit—Spirit of Love.
Gems from the Word
“With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.”— Psalms 119:10
Notice how often the psalmist speaks of “all the heart” or the “whole heart”: “search for him with all their hearts” (119:2); “I will put into practice with all my heart” (verse 34); “I obey your commandments with all my heart” (verse 69); “I pray with all my heart” (verse 145). In seeking God, in observing His law, in crying for His help—each time it is with his whole heart.
When we want to be successful in business, we put our whole heart into it. Isn’t this even more necessary in the service of a holy God? He is worthy. The whole heart is needed in the service of God when we worship Him.
We often forget this. In prayer, in reading His Word, in seeking to do His will, we fail to say continually: “I have tried my best—with my whole heart—to find You.” Let us learn to say: “I desire to seek God and to serve Him with my whole heart.”
Meditate and pray about this. Spend time before God until you know that you mean what you say and you have the assurance that God will hear your prayer. Then each morning as you approach God in prayer you can honestly say, “I seek You with my whole heart.” You gradually will feel the need of waiting in holy stillness upon God so that He may take possession of your whole heart. You will learn to love Him with your whole heart and your whole mind.
“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.”—Proverbs 3:3
Character is measured by the love and faithfulness we genuinely display in our daily lives. These are not simple virtues that we can fake. Merciful love is displayed when we have power over another but choose to treat them with kindness and genuine concern. Faithfulness is being a person of truth — genuine and trustworthy in word and deed. These virtues need to be a part of our everyday life and permeate our very identity. When they do, others will notice and God will be pleased……God is a perfect balance of mercy and truth because He is abundant in both. There is no lack of truth in God nor is there any shortage of mercy in Him. The concern for Rehoboam was that he “let not mercy and truth forsake him.” He couldn’t afford to live life without these two virtues – without BOTH of these virtues. We can’t afford to live without both of these virtues either. Without truth, we will be governed by the dangerous deceit of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). Without mercy, we will not be given mercy (James 2:13). If equipped with truth but void of mercy, we will become cold, hard and ineffective. If warmed by mercy but lacking in truth, we will be temporarily warm but ultimately ineffective. If we forsake either of these virtues, they both will eventually leave us to find someone that will want them – BOTH of them.