Christian Love Part 2 Of 4 By J. C. Ryle

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II. Let me show, secondly, WHAT the love of the Bible really is.

I think it of great importance to have clear views on this point. It is precisely here that mistakes about love begin. Thousands delude themselves with the idea that they have “love,” when they have not, from downright ignorance of Scripture. Their love is not the love described in the Bible.

(a) The love of the Bible does not consist in¬†giving to the poor.¬†It is a common delusion to suppose that it does. Yet Paul tells us plainly, that a man may “bestow all his goods to feed the poor “(1 Corinthians 13:8)–and not have love! That a charitable man will “remember the poor,” there can be no question. (Galatians 2:10.) That he will do all he can to assist them, relieve them, and lighten their burdens–I do not for a moment deny. All I say is, that this does not make up “love.” It is easy to spend a fortune in giving away money, and soup, and milk, and and bread, and coals, and blankets, and clothing–and yet to be utterly destitute of Bible love!

(b) The love of the Bible does not consist in never disapproving anybody’s conduct.¬†Here is another very common delusion! Thousands pride themselves on never¬†condemning¬†others, or calling them¬†wrong, whatever they may do. They convert the precept of our Lord, “do not judge,” into an excuse for having no unfavorable opinion at all of anybody! They pervert His prohibition of¬†rash¬†and¬†censorious¬†judgments, into a prohibition of¬†all¬†judgment whatever.¬†

Your neighbor may be a drunkard, a liar, and a violent man. Never mind! “It is not love,” they tell you, “to pronounce him, wrong!” You are to believe that he has a¬†good heart at the bottom!¬†This idea of love is, unhappily, a very common one. It is full of mischief. To¬†throw a veil over sin, and to refuse to call things by their right names, to talk of “hearts” being good, when “lives” are flatly wrong, to shut our eyes against wickedness, and say smooth things of immorality–this is not Scriptural love!

(c) The love of the Bible does not consist in never¬†disapproving anybody’s religious opinions.¬†Here is another most serious and growing delusion. There are many who pride themselves on never pronouncing others mistaken, whatever views they may hold. Your neighbor may be an Atheist, or a Buddhist, or a Roman Catholic, or a Mormonite, a Deist, or a Skeptic, a mere Formalist, or a thorough Antinomian. But the “love” of many says that you have no right to think him wrong! “If he is sincere, it is uncharitable to think unfavorably of his spiritual condition!”

From such love–may I ever be delivered!

At this rate, the Apostles were wrong in going out to preach to the Gentiles!

At this rate, there is no use in missions!

At this rate, we had better close our Bibles, and shut up our churches!

At this rate, everybody is right–and nobody is wrong!

At this rate, everybody is going to Heaven–and nobody is going to Hell!¬†

Such¬†love¬†is a monstrous caricature! To say that all are equally right in their opinions–though their opinions flatly contradict one another; to say that all are equally in the way to Heaven–though their doctrinal sentiments are as opposite as black and white–this is not Scriptural love. Love like this, pours contempt on the Bible, and talks as if God had not given us a written standard of truth. Love like this, confuses all our notions of Heaven, and would fill it with a discordant inharmonious rabble. True love does not think everybody right in doctrine. True love cries, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world!” 1 John 4:1. “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him!” 2 John 1:10¬†

I leave the negative side of the question here. I have dwelt upon it at some length because of the days in which we live and the strange notions which abound. Let me now turn to the positive side. Having shown what love is not, let me now show what it is.

Christian love is that “love,” which Paul places first among those fruits which the Spirit causes to be brought forth in the heart of a believer. “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” (Galatians 5:22.)¬†

Love to God, such as Adam had before the fall, is its first feature. He who has love, desires to love God with heart, and soul and mind, and strength. 

Love to man is its second feature. He who has Christian love, desires to love his neighbor as himself.

Christian love will show itself in a believer’s¬†doings. It will make him ready to do kind acts to everyone within his reach, “both to their bodies and souls. It will not let him be content with soft words and kind wishes. It will make him diligent in doing all that lies in his power to lessen the sorrow and increase the happiness of others. Like his Master, he will care more for ministering than for being ministered to, and will look for nothing in return. Like his Master’s great apostle, he will very willingly “spend and be spent” for others, even though they repay him with hatred, and not with love. True love does not want¬†wages. Its work is its reward.¬†

Christian love will show itself in a believer’s¬†readiness to bear evil¬†as well as to do good. It will make him . . .
patient under provocation, 
forgiving when injured, 
meek when unjustly attacked, 
quiet when slandered. 

It will make him bear much and forbear much, put up with much and look over much, submit often and deny himself often–all for the sake of peace. It will make him put a strong¬†bit¬†on his temper, and a strong¬†bridle¬†on his tongue.

True love is not always asking, “What are¬†my¬†rights? Am¬†I¬†treated as I deserve?” but, “How can I best promote peace? How can I do that which is most edifying to others?”

Christian love will show itself in the general spirit and demeanor of a believer. It will make him kind, unselfish, good-natured, good-tempered, and considerate for others. It will make him gentle, affable, and courteous, in all the daily relations of private life. It will make him thoughtful for others’ comfort, tender for others’ feelings, and more anxious to give pleasure than to receive.¬†

True love never¬†envies¬†others when they prosper, nor rejoices in the calamities of others when they are in trouble. At all times, it will believe, and hope, and try to put a good construction on others’ actions. And even at the worst, it will be full of pity, mercy, and compassion.

Would we like to know where the¬†true Pattern¬†of love like this can be found? We have only to look at the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, as described in the Gospels, and we shall see it perfectly exemplified. Love shone forth in all His¬†doings. His¬†daily life¬†was an incessant “going about” doing good. Love shone forth in all His¬†bearing. He was continually hated, persecuted, slandered, misrepresented. But He patiently endured it all. No angry word ever fell from His lips. No ill-temper ever appeared in His demeanor. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.” (1 Peter 2:23.) Love shone forth in all His¬†spirit¬†anddeportment. The¬†law of kindness¬†was ever on His lips. Among weak and ignorant disciples, among sick and sorrowful petitioners for help and relief, among publicans and sinners, among Pharisees and Sadducees–He was always one and the same–kind and patient to all.

And yet, be it remembered, our blessed Master never¬†flattered sinners,¬†or¬†connived at sin. He never shrank from¬†exposing wickedness¬†in its true colors, or from rebuking those who would cleave to it. He never hesitated to¬†denounce false doctrine, by whoever it might be held, or to exhibit¬†false practice¬†in its true colors, and the certain end to which it tends. He called things by their right names. He spoke as freely of Hell and the fire that is never quenched, as of Heaven and the kingdom of glory. He has left on record an everlasting proof that perfect love does not require us to approve everybody’s life or opinions, and that it is quite possible to condemn false doctrine and wicked practice–and yet to be full of love at the same time.

I have now set before my readers the true nature of Christian love. I have given a slight and very brief account of what it is not, and what it is. I cannot pass on without suggesting two practical thoughts, which press home on my mind with weighty force, and I hope may press home on others.

Think, for a moment, how deplorably little love there is upon earth!¬†How w conspicuous is the absence of true love among professing Christians! I speak not of¬†heathen¬†now, I speak of professing Christians! What angry tempers, what passions, what selfishness, what bitter tongues–are to be found in private families! What strifes, what quarrels, what spitefulness, what malice, what revenge, what envy between neighbors and fellow-parishioners! What jealousies and contentions between Churchmen and Dissenters, Calvinists and Arminians, High Churchmen and Low Churchmen! “Where is love?” we may well ask, “Where is love? Where is the mind of Christ?”–when we look at the spirit which reigns in the world. No wonder that Christ’s cause stands still, and infidelity abounds–when men’s hearts know so little of love! Surely, we may well say, “When the Son of man comes, shall He find¬†love¬†upon earth?”

Think, for another thing, what a happy world this would be–if there was more love.¬†It is the lack of love which causes half the misery which there is upon earth. Sickness, and death, and poverty, will not account for more than half the sorrows. The rest come from ill- temper, ill-nature, strifes, quarrels, lawsuits, malice, envy, revenge, frauds, violence, wars, and the like. It would be one great step towards doubling the happiness of mankind, and halving their sorrows–if all men and women were full of Scriptural love.

About Steve Rebus

‚úěFollower of Christ, Husband, Gymgoer, Photographer, Guitarist, Drummer....Oh and i'm also Blind too! ūüėÄ

One Response to “Christian Love Part 2 Of 4 By J. C. Ryle”

  1. (it appears that part 3 & 4 have not been posted as yet?)

    “No angry word ever fell from His lips.” – I fail to see this when I read His Word

    “He never shrank from exposing wickedness in its true colors, or from rebuking those who would cleave to it. He never hesitated to denounce false doctrine, by whoever it might be held, or to exhibit false practice in its true colors, and the certain end to which it tends. He called things by their right names.”

    How can I best bring peace? Sometimes first by upheaval.

    Matthew 10:34&35 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    James 1:2&3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

    Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

    Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    Not only do I strive to take joy in my sufferings, but the sufferings of others. If I’m continuously told that my sufferings are for my ultimate good and they are opportunities to Trust Jesus more, to Love Him more, to help me, to help me be more obedient, to help me be more like Him, to increase my love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – then why wouldn’t I be happy when anyone is suffering? No wound is ever wasted with Jesus whether they are inflicted by the enemy, by ourselves or by Himself.

    Like in weightlifting – no pain, no gain. One can’t get stronger without pain. The tearing of the muscles is necessary – of course the required time of healing is also required, but only for the purpose to tear them again.

    A drill sergeant seems unkind and unmerciful – he’s trying to develop endurance(which can save a life) but, also make instruments for a particular purpose which can include death or dismemberment.

    Isaiah 54:8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

    When we surrender ALL to Jesus, He then molds us for whatever purpose He chooses, even death or dismemberment. I speak of life in our mortal bodies as life in eternity has different goals and purposes, though our mortal lives do contribute to those goals and purposes ultimately.

    So maybe True Love doesn’t look and act like we really want it to or think it does.

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear from you!

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