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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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​Spiritual Restoration

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“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; consider thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal 6:1). Supposing a person falls into sin, and is positively surprised into what is plainly evil, what then? Still the Holy Spirit presses that the spiritual should “restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.” A very weighty word indeed. For, first, in case of a fall, through want of watchfulness and dependencies upon God, we learn who are the most adapted to meet the need. It is the obligation of all in a general way; but who are those that the Holy Spirit urges to deal well with such a case? “Ye that are spiritual.”


Now it does not follow that he who is born of God is necessarily spiritual. To “live in the Spirit” is a very different thing from being “spiritual.” A spiritual person not only lives, but will “also walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:25—NC). Of course, he has the infirmities of other men, and may at times manifest nature; but in an obvious way, taken as a whole, through the grace of God, he has learned to judge and not to indulge self, and to detect, especially in himself, departure from the Lord, and to own it frankly and humbly before the Father.


In consequence of this steadfast self-judgement (1Co 11:31—NC), there will be far greater tenderness in dealing with sin in others. They may have a keen discernment; but where it comes to that which is real and most serious—which perhaps many would give up as making the case hopeless, and think that the person could not be a Christian at all—they, knowing more of the subtlety of the flesh as well as the grace of God, are able to count upon His goodness (Rom 2:4—NC), and are the very persons to deal with the evil and to restore the soul.


So, that you will always find in cases that call for gracious handling, it is for the spiritual, not those that are the most used themselves to trip, not those that are apt to indulge the flesh and depart from fellowship with the Lord. These some might think the most likely to deal pitifully with such a stumble; but on the contrary, those are called for who “walk circumspectly“ (Eph 5:15—NC) and in self-judgement, as a general rule, and who are thus kept from slipping (Jude 1:24—NC), through continual leaning on a faithful Lord; because the very power that preserves them from going astray is what gives them to understand the grace of God and to depend upon that grace to others (2Co 1:4—NC). Accordingly these are told to “restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.”


When a believer that is in any measure spiritual, thinks of himself, what he realizes is his immense falling short of the Lord Jesus. He has ever before him how greatly he fails, even of that which he desires in his ways before the Father. But when he looks at his brother Christian, let him be the feeblest possible, and sees him as a beloved one of Christ, in full acceptance in, and the object of, the Father’s tender affections, this draws out both love and self-hatred (Jhn 12:25—NC). Thus, if grace be at work, what is Christ-like in another saint rises at once before the heart, along with what is unlike Christ in himself.


Hence it is not a question of striving to cultivate high feeling about one’s neighbors, and to think them what they are not (Rom 12:3—NC), but really believing what is true about them, and feeling rightly about ourselves too. If one thinks of what a saint is in the Lord Jesus and what he means to Him, and what he will be through Him, then one’s heart takes in the wonder of His love, and how much the Lord makes of him. But when the eye is turned to oneself, all the unworthy ways and feelings and shortcomings come up in humiliating remembrance. Likewise, in considering “thyself, lest thou also be tempted,” with this difference, that it is not so much looking at what we have been, as at what we have to fear and watch against now (also Mat 26:41—NC).


Wm Kelly

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