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Steps in Love

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After entering into the gifts of Grace and Faith (Eph 2:8), we begin to learn the most important attribute of God—His love! As time progresses we eventually realize that all is contained in and by His love, which makes it the center point of concentration concerning everything eternal, and that the learning of understanding its expression will doubtless be unending.


Steps in Love

The great turning point in the history of a saint is when he becomes consciously an object of divine love. Mercy and goodness are often apprehended long before there is any true knowledge of love. The perfectness of redemption may be known with clarity and certainty, and all the common difficulties and exercises of a convicted sinner may find such an answer that the conscience is at peace, and the heart may not have yet found its perfect rest in divine love.

It is well when our hearts learn to put things in this order—“who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Many know the Lord Jesus as an infinite Benefactor, and are deeply grateful to Him for what He has done, without having realized that all has been the outflow of His measureless and everlasting love. In such cases there is no true response to His heart (in comparison to the degree in which we eventually learn—NC), and He looks in vain for the answering affection which the knowledge of His love would kindle.

This love-awakening is a wonderful epoch in the saint’s history, and by this I mean not conversion or peace, but the first consciousness of being loved by the Son of God. To know Him in the greatness of His Person—in the brightness of the Father’s throne—supreme in heavenly glory—and to know that there is a living link of inconceivable love between Him and me! Such knowledge as this revolutionizes the affections; throws the dim and worthless, though often cherished, idols of the earth into the shade to which they properly belong and makes heaven supremely attractive because of the One who is there!

But this does not come all at once. It seems to me that there are three distinct steps in the appreciation of His love. First, I learn that He loves me so much that He has saved me. I survey all His grace to me as a vile sinner—I consider His amazing work—my soul explores the vast range of its blessing—and I see it all as the outflow of His personal love for me. This kindles the heart, and sets it all aglow with responsive affection. “My Beloved is mine” becomes the rapturous utterance of the soul. His love kindles the heart which is filled to overflowing with a sense of what it has got in Him. The thought of Him is uppermost. He is the soul’s treasure, and it is the heart’s delight to think of Him in His all-varied excellence and beauty.

The second step of affection is the consciousness that He loves me so much that He has a right to me. All believers will admit this, but it is another thing to reach it in affection. I may acknowledge the right of the Lord Jesus to command me—he would be a strange Christian who would not—but this does not bring in any power if I do not reach it in affection. His Lordship is not a measure of duty or responsibility alone; it is a claim acquired by love and gladly rendered in love. “I am my Beloved’s” (Sng 6:3; 7:10). He would have me for Himself. When this love is known it produces true devotedness (desired obedience instead of obligatory obedience—NC), and maintains the heart in liberty.

The third step is the consciousness that He loves me so much that He wants my company. “His desire is towards me” (Sng 7:10). Love’s delight is found in the company of its object, it is to secure this that He acts as our Priest—lifting us above the pressure here that we may join Him in the sanctuary. To this end He is presented to us by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures and all true ministry, that our hearts may be drawn away from the place where He is not to the scene of His exaltation and glory. He yearns for our company. His love delights to share with us the joys of that blessed realm—to make us familiar with the Father’s presence even now—in a word, to have us near Himself. May we know in a deeper way the sweetness of personal intimacy with “the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

— C A Coats (1862-1945)

MJS devotional excerpt for March 18:

“Bridge the gaps! A bridge means something—generally a life laid down. The very simplest bridge, a plank thrown across a stream, was once part of a tree standing erect, sapping life from the earth, and beautifying all the area around it. Now it is dead, but perhaps saves other lives; anyway it helps to make others useful, and is content to push others on, unnoticed, unthanked. ‘Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not,’ just be a bridge. It is so simple. See that others are placed on the right track with God through the Lord Jesus. When they get there, they will not thank you, will never look back probably at the bridge; but the Great Architect will know and love and care.” -E.W.