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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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Liberating Dependence

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We are told in Deuteronomy 8 to “remember all the way which the Lord thy God led these forty years”; and their journey’s, according to their goings out, are written by Moses (Num 33). They pitched as last by the Jordan (vs 49); all the dealings of the way whether bright or dark, or both, go to teach the one great lesson, namely, dependence on God. “Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the lord doth man live” (Deu 8:3). This was the word quoted by our Lord when tempted by Satan. He knew nothing but dependence—dependence according to the will of God expressed in His Word.


But if dependence on God be learned by the vicissitudes of the way, when dependence is learned, Jordon is reached; so that while my heart rests in dependence upon my Father, I am crossing the last barrier between the wilderness and Canaan. I am not only dependent upon the Father for His Word and mind about everything; but the old man, that which hinders me and bars my entrance into the scene of light and joy in His presence, is at the same time reckoned dead. Jordon is properly my death with Christ.


The dealings of God in the wilderness have taught me dependence upon Him according to His Word; but as soon as I have reached the sure and blessed way to go through the wilderness, I find I am in spirit so over Jordan that I am not in the wilderness but in Canaan; that is, when I am fully qualified to walk in the wilderness, because of dependence on God, I am out of the wilderness, I am not sensibly there, but in spirit across the Jordan and in heaven.


We are not morally prepared to cross the Jordan until we are fully fit to walk in the wilderness. I am not able to reckon myself dead until I have learned full and entire confidence in my Father. One may try to get into Canaan, but the way is through the Jordan; and though one might try to die to everything here, it would be a poor thing, even if it could be accomplished, without unqualified confidence in the Father. When I am most fit to stay here I am most fit to go there, and the barrier which the old man rears up disappears. The water of Jordan is but touched, and all the barriers disappears. For we have died with Christ, but it must be accepted in faith.


The new life is planted within us and it is surrounded by a hard shell—the “old man.” Now there are two forces at work to liberate the new creation from the dense obdurate shell—the one within, and the other without. The one without, is the circumstances through which we are passing; the one within, is the hunger and effort of the new being, the inner man, to be liberated and to grow. The outer things cause the inner man to turn to the Father and to wait only on Him; and when this turning to him is complete, deliverance is known—the shell is broken.


We all, in some way or another, suffer from the shell; but once we know that it is the shell that hampers us, we seek the power that will enable us to break through. In this tabernacle we groan, being burdened, and the Lord tries us in one way and another; but there is no bitterness in the trial, once we see that He is only doing from without what is in cooperation with His Spirit within, namely, to free us from the bondage of the shell. Dependence upon the Father enables us to break it from within like the young bird. May we accept with thankfulness His mercy in breaking it from without; which is really only helping the desires of His own Spirit within us.


- J B Stoney

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