By T.M. Anderson
"Giving all diligence, add to your faith ... charity."
Love is the very essence of the religion of Jesus Christ. A love which prompts all motives, regulates every desire and ambition, and directs the course of living out a holy life, fulfills the law of God. A sanctified man is constrained by love; he is filled with love and dwells in love. Holiness of heart has resulted in the man having the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto him. This love resides at the fountainhead of the issues of his life. It transfigures him into the likeness of Him who was the very embodiment of divine love.
Charity in the New Testament means much more than the common usage of that word implies in the parlance of nominal Christianity of today. It means that the pure love of God is clothed with the human personality. A sanctified man becomes in a very true sense the love of God incarnate. The love of God clothed with the personality of Jesus, the Son of Man, has been multiplied by the whole sanctified Church. The members of that holy company have had love made perfect in them, and because of that, "As he is, so are we in this world."
This is the lowest standard of holiness anyone may hope to measure by who properly understands the meaning of this experience. The fruit of holiness is charity in all its ramifications. There is no phase of life that it does not touch. It purifies the motive of true worship; it intensifies the spirit of acceptable service; and maintains an unreprovable life before God.
The personal responsibility enjoined upon the sanctified to give all diligence to supply their faith with charity cannot be overemphasized. Their duty is to exemplify it at all times, and under all conditions, and in all places. Furthermore, they are not only to be examples of it, but they are to put it to the most practical uses in this world.. To do this is one of the duties that follow after holiness has been received.
Charity out of a pure heart.
"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart." Through charity which proceeds from a pure heart the whole law of God revealed in the gospel can be fulfilled. All that both the old and the new covenants enjoin can be lived out through love which comes out of a pure heart. To swerve from this, as some did, will mean to make shipwreck of faith.
Love out of a pure heart expresses itself in three directions: It is first Godward, then brotherward, and worldward.
Love toward God is pre-eminently first, and above any and all other phases of love. Within the human affectionate nature is a sacred center or place which is opened by the act of the will to admit the indwelling Christ, who, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is God's love-gift to the soul. All persons and things which have dwelt in this place in the heart are taken out. Father, mother, sister, brother, wife, children, houses and lands, yea, even the very self, all are taken out of the first place in the affections. That place is given to God. He comes before all these persons and things ever afterward. This constitutes the greatest possible gift that anyone can make to God. He has done his best when such a gift is made.
When this has been done, then God's love moves to the highest possible plane of action, and He gives himself to the soul. These two affections meet in redeeming grace in the heart of a man and consummate that union which exists when we dwell in Him and He in us, and love is made perfect. This is the state of the sanctified.
Now this first love toward God must ever be held to this level. The sanctified must ever keep their love for God at this point. We do know that true love between man and woman reaches its highest point when they have given themselves to each other to form wedlock where the twain become one flesh. If they are to continue throughout life in happiness, their love must be held at this highest point always. It must never give place to any other person or thing. All persons and all things are kept in a lesser place in the affections.
These same facts are true with respect to that relationship which exists between the sanctified and their Lord. They are not only to give themselves to Him in love, but they must ever keep Him fixed in their affections throughout all the days of their life. If nothing can separate us from the love of God, because God will not permit anything to intrude in the place He has given in His heart to His people, then let His people see to it that nothing shall separate Him from their love.
If the sanctified will carry this determination into all life, they will know the meaning of what is implied in the exhortation to give all diligence to add love to faith.
Love which expresses itself brotherward we have treated on in a preceding chapter. We advance to that phase of love which is expressed worldward by the sanctified.
Love is twofold in its nature. There is compassionate love and there is pleasurable love. The latter means that phase of love which loves others with the love of pleasure. It delights in them because they are lovable in ways and character.
But compassionate love is that kind which loves with the love of pity. It loves the person, but not that person's ways. It is this kind of love with which God loved the world, and which resulted in the gift of His Son to die for them. "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." But God does not love the world of sinful men with the love of pleasure. It is the love of pity and compassion which He has for sinners. This is the kind of love which His people have for sinners in this world. Holiness results in a heart of compassion for lost men. It can never be holiness and be indifferent and self-contented while the world rots on the rim of ruin. Love feels it is debtor to all men to acquaint them with the good news of salvation. It takes advantage of every opportunity to witness for Christ It identifies itself with Christ in this respect, that it acknowledges Him before all men as the Saviour of the world.
The want of compassionate love toward the world is too often seen among professors of holiness. Many of them seem to be bent on the enjoyment of their own experience, but have little regard for those who are in darkness. The loss of this love indicates the loss of that knowledge of holiness. It savors of an ease in Zion which has no tears to shed over the lost multitudes of earth.
It is too often the truth that little burden is carried; prayers are without fervency, and personal work is lacking, and the compassionate love is wanting. This love is fervent when the heart is holy. Let every sanctified person be diligent to keep this love added to faith. To lose the ministry of reconciliation means death to the soul.
There is no amount of exhortation, urging, appealing, threatening, or promises that can produce this compassion for a lost world which the Church so much needs. It results from a holy heart, Spirit-filled, and love constrained. Love for sinners that pities their plight, sympathizes with their condition, and pours itself out to save them is something that must be kept alive in the heart by keeping close to God and imbibing the Spirit of the Master. Love that is pure results in fervency of spirit serving the Lord. A holy man will dry up in his soul if he fails to keep his love for a lost world to the highest pitch, and put it into everyday use by prayer and work.
Charity only gives value to good works.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
The message of the Spirit to the Ephesian church as recorded in Revelation corroborates these words of Paul. With all they had done and were doing, none of their works were of value because they had left their first love. They had fallen below the pre-eminent affection which only could make their works acceptable before God.
Charity must be added to all works performed for the Lord, because love is the only true spirit of holy service. To do anything for any other reason except love is to be rejected of the Lord. No good works are to be done in order to merit salvation. They proceed from the love which has resulted from salvation.
The man who tithes his income because it is his duty merely, or because he fears not to do it, or because he wants the Lord to prosper him for so doing, does so with the wrong motive. If he tithes out of pure love for God and His cause, his works receive eternal value. To preach because of a sense of duty, or for money, fame, or favor, is not the spirit of love. Preaching is made a joyful service and an honorable calling because of the love which one has for God and men.
If love does not actuate the motives of service, one becomes a hireling. Such serve for wages and not because they love either God or the persons served. Love bears with fortitude all weariness in service. It asks for no credit or commendation; it only asks to be privileged to serve. Love never measures just the amount to be done in order to ease the conscience; it does all it possibly can, at all times, always.
It is very easy to become a great worker, yet be a poor lover. Fervent love enhances the value of zealous service. Many retain their standard of works after they have lost their first love. They may substitute good works for love and appease the cry of the heart for the satisfaction which they lost when they ceased to be ardent lovers.
Love, the very essence of holiness, may be lost like salt may lose its savor. That person who has sustained such a loss may for years maintain good works, be faithful and loyal to obligations, and otherwise retain the standard of the works of holiness, and the heart be wanting in the affection which once gave so much joy and satisfaction. Such a one will continue to work from the sense of duty, though the soul is parched and dry, and an insatiable thirst for the blessing of God torments him day and night. Everything done seems so empty and devoid of real pleasure in service. Such will find himself groaning in prayer for God to do something for him that will break up the drought of soul and make the labors more delightful.
Without charity added to faith all that is done profiteth nothing. Holiness that is lived out through love in the performance of all works is true holiness; for love gives value to all its deeds. A breakdown in love results in formalism in service. Service without love is form without power. Keeping love fervent for Christ is the secret of holy service replete with joy and contentment.
Offering up the heart daily in love-making to Christ is the secret of maintaining holiness at the highest point of efficient service. Such as do this will always have their testimony that they please God. They will walk with God without a break all the days of their life, in holiness and righteousness before Him.
Charity as a preventive.
Love in possession of the heart keeps it closed to all undesirables. It permits no intrusions into its sacred precincts. It stands guard at every entrance of the soul. Love is the bond of perfectness. It holds together all the faculties, and all desires of mind and body, and prevents them from going beyond certain fixed bounds. It will not behave itself unseemly in any manner. It keeps the whole spiritual life and being in perfect poise. It prevents excesses and lapses. All that is unbecoming it forbids, and all that is becoming it recommends.
Love in the sanctified governs the will. Those who love with pure love refrain from grieving the persons whom they love. All volitions are regulated by their love. Those who love God cannot sin-not because their will is destroyed, but because they are prevented by love. Hence all things which are incompatible to the sanctified life will be prevented by the adding of charity to their faith. Keeping love at full tide will be the greatest safeguard a holy man can have.
Love will prevent envy. One needs to understand the nature of envy in order to safeguard against its ever returning in the soul that has been sanctified.
Envy is the result of dissatisfaction with present conditions, situations, and possessions, when compared with the same things in others. One is sorely tempted to complain of his lot after he sees how fortune has smiled on someone else who he knows is no more deserving than he. Sickness, poverty, misfortune may have been the portion he has received; while others around him may be more favored, and none of these things have befallen them. Seeing this, it is easy to grow restive and complaining, which will surely open the way for the devil to plant the seed of envy in the heart.
Love, that in honor prefers one another, must come to the rescue. It must command the will, the body, and the mind. Love will look up to a wise God and thank Him for His blessings received, and rejoice that He has seen fit to give to others what He denies to us. Can love do this? It can without doubt do this in all sincerity. This is the attitude of all who possess it.
If the love one has for a family can do this, why not the love one has for God? Suppose the choice is given to select any member of the family to suffer affliction? What would decide the choice? Would not love suffer rather than have another suffer while it escapes? Love immediately sacrifices itself in place of the person which it loves. This is love, in honor preferring one another. Love in the sanctified takes this position toward the honors which God may see fit to give to His people. It takes this attitude in sufferings and sacrifices to be made. "Take me," says love, "crucify me, but let these alone."
The sanctified do well to guard at this point. They must give all diligence to add love to faith, and bring it into play when such demands are made upon them in the course of a holy life.
Again, love prevents provocation. It does not prevent the causes of provocation, but it is not provoked when these arise. Carnal anger is never evidenced in the sanctified. It is put off with the old man. A sanctified person has within him the same human traits which exploded into anger when in sin. These are resident within, and are purified and placed under the control of the will, which in turn is governed by love. Sanctification has not removed from the soul that which sin once controlled; only the sin is removed. The same things which once provoked to anger are met with from without by all holy persons, but the same conditions do not exist within them. Love meets those provoking persons and situations with fortitude, and holds the will and emotions steady until the storm be passed. Love does not get provoked; it retains its nature. It would cease to be love if it became anger.
Another point to guard in adding charity to faith is that of "righteous indignation." By this covering some have clothed their lack of charity. A sanctified individual is not utterly blind to the sins and gross injustices of this age of the world. The wicked do prosper and bring wicked devices to pass. But the admonition is to "Fret not thy self in any wise to do evil." To be angry and sin not is possible, if the anger is the kind God has toward sin. But man is so frail and weak at his best that he is admonished not to let the sun go down upon his wrath. Better not keep it in the house overnight. Vehemence does not become charity.
Charity is not compromising in its make-up. one cannot love God and side with His enemies also. Yet to break out in bitter denunciations will only injure the cause of holiness, and react with no good effects on the soul.
Love is the one enduring quality; it hath never an end. It never ceases to be useful and necessary in time or eternity. It bears all things. It never breaks down under the load which it hath consented to bear. It believeth all things; for it knows whom it hath believed, and is persuaded that He is able to keep that which hath been committed to His care against that day. It hopeth all things, because it knows there is no disappointment awaiting the trusting soul. Faithful is He who hath promised; He cannot deny himself.
Ah unfailing love in man must meet the unfailing love of God. These two become one in the unity of redemption. Nothing can separate the redeemed from His love, for it abides. Nothing must separate Him from their love; it must abide. This will create a union which cannot be broken. It forms a relation which cannot be severed. Heaven and earth may pass away, but love abides. The eternal Son shall fold up the heavens like a vesture, and they shall be changed. He shall shake the earth until the oceans spill oyer their sides, and the mountains skip like lambs at play. He shall shake heaven until it departs like a scroll when rolled together. He shall cause the moon to turn to blood, and the stars to fall as the fig tree casteth her untimely fruit when she is shaken of a mighty wind. With a voice which compasses the earth like a terrible thunder, He shall awaken the dead, startle the living, and terrify the wicked, as He summons both small and great into final judgment. But we have received a kingdom which cannot be moved. "Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's glow its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.