Evening Reading for August 19

John 15:9-14
Suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

We should observe how our Lord speaks of the grace of brotherly love. He returns to it a second time, though he has already spoken of it in the former part of his discourse. He would have us know that we can never think too highly of love, attach too much weight to it, labour too much to practise it. Truths which our Master thinks it needful to enforce on us by repetition must needs be of first-class importance.

He commands us to love one another. `This is my commandment.' It is a positive duty laid on our consciences to practise this grace. We have no more right to neglect it than any of the ten precepts given on Mount Sinai.

He supplies the highest standard of love: `Love one another, as I have loved you.' No lower measure must content us. The weakest, the lowest, the most ignorant, the most defective disciple is not to be despised. All are to be loved with an active, self-denying, self-sacrificing love. He that cannot do this, or will not try to do it, is disobeying the command of his Master.

A precept like this should stir up in us great searchings of heart. It condemns the selfish, ill-natured, jealous, ill-tempered spirit of many professing Christians with a sweeping condemnation. Sound views of doctrine and knowledge of controversy will avail us nothing at last, if we have known nothing of love. Without charity we may pass muster very well as churchmen but without charity we are no better, says St Paul, than `sounding brass and tinkling cymbal' (1 Cor. 13:1). Where there is no Christ-like love, there is no grace, no work of the Spirit and no reality in our religion. Blessed are they that do not forget Christ's commandment! They are those who shall have right to the tree of life and enter the celestial city. The unloving Christian is unmeet for heaven.

For meditation: The Christian has a responsibility of love towards all men, but especially towards his fellow believers.

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