Excerpt From God’s Gift Of Perfection
Chapter 28–Part 1
“Beloved! if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man has beheld God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4: 11, 12.
The first mark of a soul in whom the love of God is to be perfected is: keeping His word. The path of obedience–the loving obedience of the perfect heart, the obedience of a life wholly given up to God’s will–is the path the Son opened up into the presence and the love of the Father. It is the only path that leads into perfect love.
The commandments of Christ are all included in the one word “Love,” because “Love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10).” “A new commandment I have given you, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you (John 13:34).” This is Christ’s word: he that keeps this word, keeps all the commandments. Love to the brethren is the second mark of a soul seeking to enter the life of perfect love.
In the very nature of things, it cannot be any other way. “Love seeks not her own (1 Corinthians 13:5)”: love loses itself in going out to live in others. Love is the death of self. Where self still lives, there can be no thought of perfect love. Love is the very being and glory of God. It is His nature and property as God to give of His own life to all His creatures, to communicate His own goodness and blessedness. The gift of His Son is the gift of Himself to be the life and joy of man. When that love of God enters the heart, it imparts its own nature–the desire to give itself to the very death for others. When the heart wholly yields itself to be transformed into this nature and likeness, then Love takes possession. There the love of God is perfected.
The question is often asked whether it is the love of God to us, or our love to God, that is meant by perfect love. The word includes both, because it implies a great deal more. The love of God is One, as God is One–His Life, His very Being. Where that Love descends and enters, it retains its nature. It is always the Divine Life and Love within us. God’s love to us, and our love to God and Christ, our love to the brethren and to all men–all these are but aspects of one and the same love. Just as there is one Holy Spirit in God and in us, so it is one Divine Love–the Love of the Spirit–that dwells in God and in us.
To know this is a wonderful help to faith. It teaches us that to love God or the brethren or our enemies is not a thing our efforts can attain. We can only do it because the Divine Love is dwelling in us, and only as far as we yield ourselves to the Divine Love as a Living Power within, as a life that has been born into us, a life that the Holy Spirit strengthens into action. Our part is first of all to rest, to cease from effort, to know that He is in us, and to give way to the love that dwells and works in us in a power that is from above.
How well John remembered the night when Jesus spoke so wonderfully of love in His parting words! Indeed, how impossible it appeared to the disciples to love as He had loved! How much there had been among them of pride and envy and selfishness; anything but love like His! How it had broken out among them that very night at the supper table! They never could love like the Master–it was impossible.
Previously Keeping His Word–Part 2