Posted by Jerry White on Jan 11, 2015
God commands His people to love. In His Law of the old covenant we are commanded to love God with our entire being and our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27). The Lord Jesus added a new dimension to this love when He gave a new commandment, “that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34, ESV). He further remarked that love like His will be the distinguishing mark of those who are His. This kind of love sacrifices one’s self in order to seek another’s well-being.
We cannot force ourselves to love this way any more than we can transform ourselves into a brand new species. Love like this must come from God Himself and flow out from us like rivers of living water (John 7:38). Jesus did not make Himself to love. He was saturated and controlled by God’s love. It flowed from Him profusely and spontaneously without any aforethought.
If we will love like Jesus we must recognize our absolute helplessness to love this way. Our bankrupt poverty must be thoroughly felt and known so we call on our Father to do what He alone can do—love through us. This anonymous poem says it well:
Love through me, Love of God,
There is no love in me,
O Fire of love, light Thou the love
That burns perpetually.
Shine through me, Joy of God,
Make me like Thy clear air,
Through which, unhindered, colors pass,
As though it were not there.
Flow through me, Peace of God,
Calm river flow until
No wind can blow, no current stir
A ripple of self-will.
O blessed Love of God,
That all may taste and see
How good Thou art, once more I pray,
Love through me, even me.
Posted by Jerry White on Jul 28, 2014
Jesus Christ is God’s love revealed through a human life. In Him we see the amazing love of God made flesh, a love so high and so pure that no sacrifice is too great for the object of His love. To friend and foe alike this love is given. No resistance diminishes its intensity. No sin is too deep for its reach. The highest obstacle is still submerged in its flow. The farthest point is love’s mere beginning. Even beyond the measure of time and the immensity of space there still dwells love, for God is love. The magnitude of His love is seen in His infinite caring about our finite needs. Even the hairs of your head He has numbered. Out of love He created you; out of love He redeemed you; and out of love He sustains you.
He gave to you the highest purpose of all His creations—-to be the expression of His own holy life. He made you uniquely to be the temple of His Spirit. Through you He desired to express His own matchless glory. In you He chose to deposit the treasure of His character, and through you He planned to show forth His radiant love.
In the latter days of His life, Jesus said to His disciples, All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another (John 14:35). The distinction of His people would be their love, not a love like any other in a world of selfishness, but a love that is different because it is sacrificial. A love that forgets self in its concern for others. A love that is patient during the stumblings of a brother. A love that forbears when a friend fails you badly. A love that forgives in the face of great sin. A love that can cheerfully take the lowest place in preference of another. A love that sees others’ needs and joyfully seeks to meet them. A love that is compassionate, gentle, and kind. A love that, indeed, is God’s love.
No man has seen God at any time, but when they see Christian brothers love each other in this way, they will see God. When they see a family love one another in this way, they will see God. When children see parents love each other in this way, they will see God.
Jesus said, A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another (John 14:34).
This comes from a book I was asked to write forty years ago.
Posted by Jerry White on Jul 14, 2014
I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
John 17:26 (ESV)
“This they obtained at Pentecost, and this we must have if we would know perfect love. And the question comes to us, What does it mean to have the love of the Father in us; the love wherewith the Father loved His Son? What does God aim to accomplish in us? ‘That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them’! First of all I must understand that the love of God is going to be within me. How is the love of God, possessing and ruling and filling my inmost being, to be in me? Just as thinking and feeling and willing is in me, and it is most easy and natural for me to think and feel and will; even so, when the love of God really fills my heart, love will flow out spontaneously and continuously. Instead of it being a duty, as it is in the earlier disciple stage, with its effort and failure, it becomes a delight, and there is a love that cannot help loving, because God’s love has been shed abroad and has taken complete possession. Up to this time there has been an inward life of self continually getting the mastery. The love of self and of sin has been very deep in me. What Christ’s prayer asks and promises is, that we are now to have an inward life of love; in the place of sin and self the love of God to Christ is now to fill the heart. Instead of having to try to love always, and so often failing, love comes in as an indwelling Divine power, constituting the very life of the soul, and loves spontaneously, continuously, and most joyfully. Love has filled the heart. Think of this. My heart, MY heart, MY heart becomes the habitation of the holy love of God to Jesus in its Divine joy and blessedness, it’s infinite power, it’s everlasting glory! ‘That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them’! That love is to be in us, our second nature, our new self, our very selves.
And then, note further, this love is to come through the Holy Spirit.”
Love Made Perfect, 59-61 (1894)
Posted by Jerry White on Dec 5, 2011
“We talk glibly of the ‘Christmas spirit’, rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis. But what we have said makes it clear that the phrase should in fact carry a tremendous weight of meaning. It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of Him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas. And the Christmas spirit itself ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.
It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians—I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians—go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord’s parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet them) averting their eyes, and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians—alas, they are many—whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.
The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor—spending and being spent—to enrich their fellowmen, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others—and not just their own friends—in whatever way there seems need. There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things He will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives. If we desire spiritual quickening for ourselves individually, one step we should take is to seek to cultivate this spirit. ‘Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.’ ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’ ‘I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart’ (Ps. 119:32).
J. I. Packer
Knowing God, 55-56
Posted by Jerry White on Feb 21, 2011
John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
Luke 9:49-50 (ESV)
“Reading about the powerful but pathetic disciples has given me pause whenever I speak of fellow believers, particularly those who come from other branches of God’s church. Sometimes we’re so eager to differentiate ourselves from certain denominations or spokespeople that we lose all sense of proportion and become outright critics. Let’s honor what God has done, is doing, and will do through his imperfect church, even while trying to reform it. Not one disciple of Jesus lacked some serious faults—and yet Jesus still loved, called, and used each one.
God loves his church, and he loves the individuals who comprise it. If we become critics instead of encouragers, we risk offending God. I know, I know—there are a million things the contemporary church could be doing better, and we could spend our entire lives doing nothing but pointing out each other’s shortcomings, theological prejudices, and stylistic embarrassments. But ask yourself this: If the current church is so bad, so ineffective, and so irrelevant, how did you come to faith while being a part of it?
Our sisters and brothers may have different hairstyles, speaking styles, and worship styles and even different emphases in their preaching, but they are still God’s people. Sometimes our pride makes us ashamed to be a part of others who embarrass us, but from the perspective of spiritual formation, anything that assaults our pride is a good thing—even if it means being categorized with someone with whom we may have legitimate disagreements.”
The Beautiful Fight, 217
Would I grieve the Lord Jesus by criticizing any of His followers for whom He died?
Posted by Jerry White on Sep 6, 2010
“Those who love most deeply, suffer most intensely. For Mary, ‘the greatest of all privileges was to bring with it the greatest of all sorrows.’ At the time of Simeon’s prediction it must have seemed remote and improbable to the young mother, but now its mystery is resolved. The mother of the Man of sorrows must share the sorrows of her Son.
‘There He hung before her eyes,’ wrote James Stalker. ‘But she was helpless. His wounds bled, but she dare not staunch them. His mouth was parched but she could not moisten it…. The nails pierced her as well as Him. The thorns round His brow were a circle of flame around her heart.’
‘There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother’ (John 19:25).
Where else would one expect to find such a mother? It was her very own Son who was suffering. The outstretched arms and nail-torn hands once had clung around her neck. The head now tortured with a crown of thorns was once pillowed on her breast. The mouth on which she had once lavished her kisses of love was now parched and swollen. Though powerless to help, she could at least be beside Him in loyalty and love.
Sympathetically she entered into all His sufferings. The spear pierced her heart as it rent His flesh. With joy she had followed His career, had feared and prayed for Him, had rejoiced in His successes and wept over His disappointments. But now He was dying as a criminal, not as a hero. What an end to the life of such a Son! Lest she add to His sufferings, she did not give way to uncontrolled weeping, but repressed her grief as the sword pierced her soul. She did not faint or swoon, she ‘stood.’ He had enough suffering of His own without her adding to His overflowing cup of sorrow.”
J. Oswald Sanders
The Incomparable Christ, 172-173
To love with deep love means sometimes to suffer with deep pain. To love a son but see him wayward. To love a spouse and see them suffer with life-taking cancer. To see a dear friend betrayed by adultery in a marriage. To see a loved one falsely accused and viciously attacked. Pain in love is what the Lord Jesus suffered. He knows tears and groans in His heart too deep for words. He understands. Oh, how He understands.
Posted by Jerry White on Oct 5, 2009
“Reading about the powerful but pathetic disciples has given me pause whenever I speak of fellow believers, particularly those who come from other branches of God’s church. Sometimes we’re so eager to differentiate ourselves from certain denominations or spokespeople that we lose all sense of proportion and become outright critics. Let’s honor what God has done, is doing, and will do through his imperfect church, even while trying to reform it. Not one disciple of Jesus lacked some serious faults — and yet Jesus still loved, called, and used each one.
God loves his church, and he loves the individuals who compose it. If we become critics instead of encouragers, we risk offending God. I know, I know — there are a million things the contemporary church could be doing better, and we could spend our entire lives doing nothing but pointing out each other’s shortcomings, theological prejudices, and stylistic embarrassments. But ask yourself this: If the current church is so bad, so ineffective, and so irrelevant, how did you come to faith while being a part of it?
Our sisters and brothers may have different hairstyles, speaking styles, and worship styles and even different emphases in their preaching, but they are still God’s people. Sometimes our pride makes us ashamed to be a part of others who embarrass us, but from the perspective of spiritual formation, anything that assaults our pride is a good thing — even if it means being categorized with someone with whom we may have legitimate disagreements.”
The Beautiful Fight, 217
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Posted by Jerry White on May 14, 2009
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8 (ESV)
God is love. This statement helps define who God is. The new commandment our Lord Jesus gave us is to love one another like He loves us (John 13:34). He said that this would be our witness to the world that we are His (John 13:35). We are to love the just and the unjust like He does (Matthew 5:43-48). The fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22). His love flowing out of us like rivers [abundance] of living water should define who we are (John 7:38). Practically what does this kind of love look like?
“I am patient with you because I love you and want to forgive you.
I am kind to you because I love you and want to help you.
I do not envy your possessions or your gifts because I love you
and want you to have the best.
I do not boast about my attainments because I love you and want to hear about yours.
I am not proud because I love you and want to esteem you before myself.
I am not rude because I love you and care about your feelings.
I am not self-seeking because I love you and want to meet your needs.
I am not easily angered by you because I love you and want to overlook your offenses.
I do not keep a record of your wrongs because I love you,
and ‘love covers a multitude of sins.’ “
Action Statements based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
The Discipline of Grace, p. 39
Posted by Jerry White on Nov 24, 2008
“It is in the expression of agape love that healing of divisions may be found. On one occasion, the Moravian church in Germany was threatened with dissension. Count Zinzendorf suggested that instead of argument, they should meet together and study the first epistle of John. Day after day they met and read; then on August 13, 1727, a great thing happened.
They went to Berthelsdorf for their love feast, their agape. As they spoke and prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and a thrill went through the waiting company. They turned to each other and said, ‘What is this?’ Surely this must be the Spirit of Pentecost.’ Afterward, when they were asked to describe what had happened, they answered, ‘That day we learned to love; to love Christ and to love each other.’ And they never yet have returned to their argument. Instead of disputing, they started a prayer meeting which, in relays, lasted without intermission for over a hundred years.”
J. Oswald Sanders
Enjoying Intimacy with God, pp. 92-93
The Lord Jesus said that agape love would be the distinctive mark of His followers. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35, ESV). This love is not mere human emotion or affection. It is not ordinary human love. This is heaven’s brand of love—self-sacrificing, constant, pure, and humble. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and cannot exist apart from Him filling your soul. It is love that denies self in order to seek the highest good of another. It covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). It forgives and is patient with others, is full of compassion and is kind.
Do you diligently pursue and pray for agape love to be the expression of your life like a river of water flowing from you? This is what the Lord Jesus wants for you.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more.
Philippians 1:9 (ESV)