Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Labor of Love

Love to God must be active in its sphere. Love is an industrious affection; it sets the head studying for God, hands working, feet running in the ways of His commandments. It is called the labour of love.

What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?

The sum of the Ten Commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourselves.

‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.’ Deut 6: 5. The duty called for is love, yea, the strength of love, ‘with all thy heart.’ God will lose none of our love. Love is the soul of religion, and that which constitutes a real Christian...

What is love?

It is a holy fire kindled in the affections, whereby a Christian is carried out strongly after God as the supreme good.

What is the antecedent of love to God?

The antecedent of love is knowledge. The Spirit shines upon the understanding, and discovers the beauties of wisdom, holiness, and mercy in God ... such as know not God cannot love Him...

Wherein does the formal nature of love consist?

The nature of love consists in delighting in an object ...The lover’s delight in his beloved ...This is loving God, to take delight in Him. ‘Delight thyself also in the Lord’ (Psa 37: 4) ...

How must our love to God be qualified?

(1) If it be a sincere love, we love God with all our heart. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.’ God will have the whole heart. We must not divide our love between Him and sin. The true mother would not have the child divided, nor will God have the heart divided; it must be the whole heart.

(2) We must love God... for Himself, for His own intrinsic excellencies. We must love Him for His loveliness...‘It is a harlot’s love to love the portion more than the person.’ Hypocrites love God because He gives them corn and wine: we must love God for Himself; for those shining perfections which are in Him...

(3) We must love God with all our might, in the Hebrew text, our vehemency; we must love God... as much as we are able. Christians should be like seraphim, burning in holy love. We can never love God so much as He deserves ...

(4) Love to God must be active in its sphere. Love is an industrious affection; it sets the head studying for God, hands working, feet running in the ways of His commandments. It is called the labour of love. 1 Thess 1: 3. Mary Magdalene loved Christ, and poured her ointments on Him. We think we never do enough for the person whom we love.

(5) Love to God must be superlative. God is the essence of beauty, a whole paradise of delight; and He must have a priority in our love. Our love to God must be above all things besides, as the oil swims above the water. We must love God above estate and relations... our love to God must be above father and mother. Matt 10: 37. We may give the creature the milk of our love, but God must have the cream. The spouse keeps the juice of her pomegranates for Christ. Song of Solomon 8: 2.

(6) Our love to God must be constant... Love must be like the motion of the pulse, which beats as long as there is life. ‘Many waters cannot quench love,’ not the waters of persecution. Song of Solomon 8: 7. ‘Rooted in love.’ Eph 3: 17. A branch withers that does not grow on a root; so love, that it may not die, must be well rooted.

What are the visible signs of our love to God?

If we love God, our desire will be after Him. ‘The desire of our soul is to Thy name.’ Isa 26: 8. He who loves God, breathes after communion with Him. ‘My soul thirsteth for the living God.’ Psa 42: 2. Persons in love desire to be often conferring together. He who loves God, desires to be much in His presence; he loves the ordinances [commands/rules] ... in the ordinances we meet with Him whom our souls love; we have God’s smiles and whispers, and some foretastes of heaven. Such as have no desire after ordinances, have no love to God.

The second visible sign is, that he who loves God cannot find contentment in any thing without Him. Give a hypocrite who pretends to love God corn and wine, and he can be content without God; but a soul fired with love to God, cannot be without Him. Lovers faint away if they have not a sight of the object loved. A gracious soul can do without health, but cannot do without God, who is the health of his countenance. Psa 43: 5. If God should say to a soul that entirely loves Him, ‘Take thy ease, swim in pleasure, solace thyself in the delights of the world; but thou shalt not enjoy My presence:’ this would not content it. Nay, if God should say, ‘I will let thee be taken up to heaven, but I will retire into another room, and thou shalt not see My face;’ it would not content the soul. It is hell to be without God..there can be no golden joy in the soul without God’s sweet presence and influence.

The third visible sign is that he who loves God, hates that which would separate between him and God, and that is sin. Sin makes God hide His face; it is like an incendiary [that which creates strife ]...therefore, the keenness of a Christian’s hatred is set against it. ‘I hate every false way.’ Psa 119: 128 cannot love health but he must hate poison; so we cannot love God but we must hate sin, which would destroy our communion with Him.

The fourth visible sign is sympathy. Friends that love, grieve for the evils which befall each other... Lovers grieve together. If we have true love in our heart to God, we cannot but grieve for those things which grieve Him; we shall lay to heart His dishonours; the luxury, drunkenness, contempt of God and religion. ‘Rivers of waters run down mine eyes,’ Psa 119: 136. Some speak of the sins of others, and laugh at them; but they surely have no love to God who can laugh at that which grieves His Spirit! Does he love his father who can laugh to hear Him reproached?

The fifth visible sign is, that he who loves God, labours to render Him lovely to others. He not only admires God, but speaks in His praises, that He may allure and draw others to be in love with Him. She that is in love will commend her lover. The lovesick spouse extols Christ... that she might persuade others to be in love with Him. ‘His head is as the most fine gold.’ Song of Solomon 5: 11. True love to God cannot be silent, it will be eloquent in setting forth his renown. There is no better sign of loving God than to make Him appear lovely, and to draw proselytes (followers) to Him.

The sixth visible sign is, that he who loves God, weeps bitterly for His absence. Mary comes weeping, ‘They have taken away my Lord.’ John 20: 13. One cries, ‘My health is gone!’ another, ‘My estate is gone!’ but he who is a lover of God, cries out, ‘My God is gone! I cannot enjoy Him whom I love.’ What can all worldly comforts do, when once God is absent? ... ‘Lord, thou art in heaven, hearing the melodious songs and triumph of angels; but I sit here in the valley of tears, weeping because thou art gone. Oh, when wilt thou come to me, and revive me with the light of thy countenance! Or, Lord, if Thou wilt not come to me, let me come to thee, where I shall have a perpetual smile of Thy face in heaven and shall never more complain, ‘My beloved has withdrawn Himself.’”

The seventh visible sign is, that he who loves God is willing to do and suffer for Him. He subscribes to God’s commands, he submits to His will... It is a vain thing for a man to say he loves God, and slight His commands. He submits to his will. If God would have him suffer for Him, he does not dispute, but obeys. ‘Love endureth all things.’ 1 Cor 13: 7. Love made Christ suffer for us, and love will make us suffer for Him. ...Many say they love God, but will not suffer the loss of anything for Him. If Christ should have said to us, ‘I love you well, you are dear to me, but I cannot suffer for you, I cannot lay down my life for you,’ we should have questioned His love very much; and may not the Lord question ours, when we pretend love to Him, but will endure nothing for His sake?

Excerpted from The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson, Chapter 1.2 entitled 'LOVE'

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