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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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Nigh Now

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The greatest thing we will ever have in God is our eternal love for one another—His for me and mine for Him! Of course the former will always be superior, being in its maximum degree; but the learning of the latter will, I think, always be learned in varying progressions. Though union with God admits only in one degree, I believe learning our fellowship in His love for us will have no end, continuing with ceaseless depths. We know He loves us and He knows we love Him, but the more He teaches us His love for us, the more we can know of its import now, and ever more fully understand that it and He are the primary sources of our sustenance.





Nigh Now


The great turning point in the history of a believer 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 (though possessing God’s love, yet requiring time to learn more fully of it—NC). The perfectness of redemption may be known with clearness and certainty, and all the common difficulties and exercises of a convicted sinner may find such an answer that the conscience is in peace, and yet the heart may not have 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.” We know the Lord Jesus as an infinite Benefactor, and are deeply grateful to Him for what He has done, without yet realizing that all has been the outflow of His measureless and everlasting love. In such cases there is no true response to His heart, and He looks in vain for the answering affection which the knowledge of His love would kindle (that is until we sufficiently learn of it—NC).


The believer’s awakening here is a wonderful epoch in his history, and by this I mean not conversion or peace, but the first consciousness of being loved by the Son of God. The effect can be overwhelming. 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 transforms 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 here!


But this does not come all at once. It seems to me 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. “My Beloved is mine” becomes the rapturous utterance of the soul. His love thrills the heart which is filled to overflowing with a sense of what it has got in Him. The thought of having Him is uppermost.


If this apprehension of His love is maintained it soon leads to the second step of affection. That 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. His lordship is not a measure of duty or responsibility alone; it is a claim acquired by love and gladly rendered by love. “I am my Beloved’s.”


When the foregoing steps are taken, a third is quickly reached—the consciousness that He loves me so much that He wants my company. “His desire is toward me.” Love’s delight is found in the company of its object, which is to secure this in that He acts as our Priest—lifting us above the pressure here that we may join Him in the sanctuary. For this He washes our feet to free us from the influences and defilement of the present scene around us so that we may have part with Him who has gone to the Father.


To this end He is presented to us by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures and in 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 wants our company. His love delights to share with us the joys of that blessed realm—to make us familiar with the Father’s house even now—in a word, to have us near Himself. May we know in a deeper way, and in fuller measure, the blessedness of personal fellowship with “the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).


- C A Coates





MJS devotional excerpt for September 27:

"There is a greater blessing for us than relief; there is the Father’s support, for it imparts to you an acquaintance with Himself which relief does not. Relief makes one more satisfied with things here. I have known some who could tell you of a long list of mercies, most touching, truly proof of the tenderness of God.


"Thank God, we all know something of His tenderness. But then there is a greater blessing, namely, that He does not remove the pressure, but raises you above it, so that, though you are not relieved, you are better off than if you were merely relieved, because you know His heart who supports you in the pressure. You have made a deep acquaintance with your Father, and your heart is more attached to Him." -J.B.S.


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